The 12 Apostles


The 12 Apostles (The Last Laugh) is a series of contemporary icons of 12 of the most infamous world leaders in the 1990’s. The style of the icons is a mixture of high art, based on 14th century Byzantine icons painted by both Christian and Muslim artists and kitsch decorations and costume jewellery pieces purchased in Asian shops in Glasgow, Scotland.

‘The darkness of the space of Sean Taylor's installation could be well thought of by the forgiveness, the heavy perfume of burning incense lit in his nostrils, shiny gold encrusted with jewels, icons hanging on every wall.

“This initial impression is a rapid upheaval, the room provided with hundreds of lights, adorning the armour of the icons, in a closed inspection around the most 'famous' leaders of the contemporary world.

The many names produce a chill in the spine.... P.W.Botha, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Ayatollah Khomeini, Margaret Thatcher, Nicolae Ceacescu... among others, twelve frightful looks, the title of the exhibition is: The Twelve Apostles.

The religion these images represent is unclear: a mixture of styles, combining elements of the fourteenth-century Byzantine and icons of Christian arabesque, with embellishments of contemporary Hindu worship. Ideology equals theology. Politicians are the fight between God and the Devil. War turned into Holy War. Each leader's face is a photocopy of a magazine cover, adding color, makeup, and costume jewelry. The overall effect is the creation of an appearance similar to that of mythical princes and fighting gods.

Taylor bases all images on specific icons, replicas that have been made or added to, or altered in a way appropriate to the character of the person portrayed: for example, the portrait of Margaret Thatcher is based on a famous fourteenth-century icon, “the Black Madonna”, she looks up to Heaven as if seeking divine inspiration”.

Text from 12 Apostles Exhibition Catalogue at the Instituto Nacional De Bellas Artes, Sala De Arte Publico Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico by Chris Byrne.

12 Apostles was exhibited at the Instituto Nacional De Bellas Artes, Sala De Arte Publico Siqueiros, Mexico City 1992, Nun’s Island Arts Centre, Galway, Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick, Crawford Arts Centre, St. Andrews, Scotland. In 1993 the work was exhibited at EAST Open Norwich Gallery, UK, and The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Project slideshow

No items found.