Celebrated artist snubbed by exhibition

By David LennardA CONTROVERSIAL painting of pop star Michael Jackson by celebrated artist Maggi Hambling has been rejected from a prestigious exhibition.

By David Lennard

A CONTROVERSIAL painting of pop star Michael Jackson by celebrated artist Maggi Hambling has been rejected from a prestigious exhibition.

Ms Hambling - whose scallop sculpture tribute to Benjamin Britten has caused a storm of controversy in Aldeburgh - painted the portrait of Jackson because she felt he was innocent of the child abuse charges he faces in America.

She submitted the painting to be exhibited at the Royal Academy's summer show, which opens in London today.


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Ms Hambling, who lives in Rendham, near Framlingham, said she was disappointed her painting had been rejected for the exhibition because she had wanted it to be seen by as many people as possible.

“I had entered the painting rather late and assumed that there was no suitable place for it to hang,” she added.

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“I am rather disappointed because a lot of people would have seen the painting as it is a very well-supported exhibition.

“Like many other people, I am convinced that Michael Jackson is innocent of these charges.

“He had the most unusual of upbringings as he was put on the stage to sing and dance at an early age and I believe he has been trying to capture his lost childhood ever since.”

The artist said she felt “appalled” at the way Michael Jackson had been portrayed in the media.

“He has not been convicted of anything and in the eyes of the law he is still innocent. I would like to think that the way he is being portrayed in America would not happen here,” she added.

Works submitted for inclusion in the summer show are considered by committees of academicians.

It has been reported that the 3ft x 2ft painting was well-received by Phillip King, president of the Royal Academy, and David Hockney, the artist and joint co-ordinator of the show.

However, it is understood the artwork was rejected following heated discussions between academicians Ms Hambling's motive for painting the portrait and its late submission.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Academy said last night: “We are not able to comment on works that were not selected and we are not able to comment on works considered by the selection committee as we receive so many.”

Ms Hambling is no stranger to her work causing controversy - her stainless steel scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach continues to attract widespread praise and a fair amount of criticism.

The public will now have to wait until August to see her portrait of Jackson when it is included in a summer exhibition at the Marlborough Fine Art Gallery in London.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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