Portraits For The People
Some things you realise in hindsight. Looking back on all the work I’ve created over the past 30 years or so, I’m suddenly struck by how drawn I’ve been to the iconic. Why? I think it’s because there’s a powerful universality captured in iconic images and world-famous faces that continue to inspire us to dream and strive to be better versions of ourselves. More recently, I’ve also learned that in its original Latin form iconicus, the word means “pertaining to a portrait.” So, it seems rather fitting that I’ve made the iconic the subject of my portraits, again and again.

After sifting through countless celebrity-inspired portraits of mine, I’m proud to present four equally iconic collections – the Club 27, James Bond, Colour Portraits, and B&W Portraits series – which are now available to buy for the first time ever as limited-edition prints. You can explore how I translate my original artworks into high-quality prints here.

The colour and black-and-white portraits represent two contrasting aspects I’ve come to associate with celebrity. The colour portraits showcase the joy and delight iconic actors and musicians offer us through their larger-than-life talent and performances. The B&W collection is a much more atmospheric series, which delves into the glamour and allure of celebrity, but also the loneliness and isolation that comes part and parcel with being a world-famous star, where everyone wants a piece of you.  

As a huge music fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the myth and mystery surrounding the 27 Club. All these super talented rock stars fell victim to their own success and left the world all too soon at the age of 27. A few years ago, I decided to make the most famous members of the 27 Club the focus of my next collection, and so I set about painting individual portraits of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.

I wanted to capture the fragility and conflict of these personalities. That’s why I opted to go for black-and-white portraits, created with acrylics and charcoal. I based each portrait on iconic photos, however I took a few liberties in my interpretations, such as adding a cigarette here and there. I felt these added a uniformity across the whole series. Plus, the plumes of smoke coupled with the stark scrapes of my palette knife on the canvas lent an otherworldly, ghostly appearance to these late legends who left a lasting impact on the world of music. 

The original canvas portraits were exhibited in a local jazz club and became one of my fastest-selling collections ever. I’m really excited to be able to share this collection anew as high-quality prints. They’re particularly fitting for music bars, record stores, and band rehearsal rooms.  

When speaking of icons of the silver screen, you don’t get much more iconic than James Bond. Since Dr No was released in cinemas in 1962, the suave globetrotting spy has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon, gifting the world with a slew of iconic actors, iconic girls, iconic villains, iconic lines, iconic songs, iconic cars, not to mention iconic names – Pussy Galore, anyone?

Between 2016 and 2017 I completed a series of portraits depicting each actor to have taken on the 007 role so far, from Connery all the way to Craig. The collection was completed while each Bond was still alive and well. Sadly, Sean Connery and Roger Moore have since passed away, but their legacy will live on forever, just like diamonds, to paraphrase one Bond movie title. Now released as a series of prints, my James Bond collection is ideal for any cineaste with a love for spy thrillers. And while I don’t suggest shaking them, these prints are sure to stir up plenty of memories and emotions tied to the movies.

I hope you enjoy these portraits as much as I did creating them. And as always, feel free to reach out for any advice on framing idea, shipping options, and personalised touches.

August 02, 2021 — Frank De Decker