Edition 28 December 2018, by Benjamin Roberts
Robert J. Halls exposition in Amsterdam’s GO Gallery
What do Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse and Marie-Antoinette have in common? Most would say not much, but that’s not true. The English painter, Robert J. Halls, is specialized in replicating portraits from the old masters in the National Gallery, the Prado, the palace of Versailles, and the Rijksmuseum, with utmost detail, and then adding a humoristic twist. The fi ne layers of the velvet dress draped over the curvatures of the body and the sparkle of the pearl necklaces on a lily-white neck of the last queen of France have a Vermeer-like quality. However, the kicker in the portrait is the face. As a kind of playful punch line, Halls does not paint the face of the spouse of King Louis XVI’s, but instead depicts Minnie, Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend. The portraits leave the viewer in awe, fi rst mind-boggled by the fi nesses of the meticulousness of the details and stunned by the cartoon smirk.
In his solo exposition at GO Gallery in Amsterdam, Halls replaces numerous other iconic, women’s faces of old masters with Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse. In the exhibition, ‘I f****d Mickey. Minnie’s Revenge’, Halls makes Minnie Mouse his muse, and at the same time becomes the model for the great masters Da Vinci, Rubens, and Dürers. With Minnie as his central fi gure, Halls aims to change Minnie demur and emancipate her from Mickey’s shadow and transform her into a modern- day female icon, with celebrity status.
Halls is no stranger to modern icons either. After he fi nished his study at the London School of Fashion, he worked as a couturier and designed costumes for movies, TV, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He designed the clothes for the Rolling Stones when they performed ‘Top of the Pops’ on the BBC. However, after becoming frustrated with the fashion industry, he made a career change, and started drawing and painting. In 2018, Halls turned to Minnie Mouse after the Walt Disney character celebrated her 90th anniversary. In Halls’ dual portrait based on Albrecht Dürer’s Adam and Eve (1507) the artist depicts the Garden of Eden’s most famous couple with mouse faces. In Dürer’s version, Eve holds an apple in her hand to seduce Adam. But in Halls’, Eve seduces Adam with something else, a piece of….. cheese. After all, Adam is a mouse, and mice like cheese.
Until January 12, 2019
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