LONDON.- A groundbreaking constantly changing new portrait of a world-famous architect by one of Britain's most influential artists goes on display at the National Portrait Gallery today. The portrait of Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born architect of the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre, is the first work by Michael Craig-Martin, one of the key figures in British contemporary art, to be commissioned by the Gallery.
His portrait of Hadid consists of a live LCD monitor that hangs on a wall like a painting and displays a line drawing of Hadid wearing an Issey Miyake jacket. While the linear drawing, based on photographs taken by the artist, is fixed, the intense colours in the portrait and its background slowly and almost imperceptibly change over time in infinite combinations. These changes are controlled by live computer software, encased in the monitor, which makes constantly randomised choices. There are so many variables that no one will ever see precisely the same image ever again. As Hadid uses computer-aided design to show the fluid nature of her spaces, it became appropriate that her own likeness should be realised in the form of a computer portrait in a constant state of flux.
The commission - which is a significant addition to the Gallery's growing collection of time-based media portraits - marks a new departure for Craig-Martin whose subjects are generally everyday objects and their relationship with the spaces they inhabit. As a tutor at Goldsmiths from the 1970s and the 1980s and as Millard Professor of Fine Art in the 1990s, Craig-Martin was particularly influential for a younger generation of artists including Julian Opie, Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst.
Iraqi-born and London-based architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26-year history. Her work transforms our vision of the future with new spatial concepts and bold, visionary forms. Each of her projects builds on over thirty years of radical experimentation with cutting-edge technologies, often resulting in unexpected and dynamic architectural forms. Hadid's seminal built works include the Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, described by the New York Times as 'the most important new building in America since the Cold War', whilst the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Pheano Science Centre in Wolfsburg and Nordpark Railway stations in Innsbruck have all been nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Zaha Hadid says: 'It is an honour to have my portrait commissioned by the Trustees. Since I was a child visiting the Gallery with my parents, the collection has offered me moments of reflection and fascination, and I have a great respect for Michael Craig-Martin's work.'
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, says: 'The portrait of Zaha Hadid is startling and magical, reflecting the brilliance of both sitter and artist.'
The portrait was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery's Trustees with support from J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions.