Ben Spiers's paintings combine a wide range of reference to previous Western and non-Western art. As the artist has explained, with reference to this work: "The pose and basic structure of this figure are derived from a Roman statue, but again things have shifted in the process of building the painting. Other sources I have worked in include: the hair and nose are taken from a photo of David Bowie made in the 1970s. However, the idea for the shaved side of the head came because when I painted Bowie's hair all over the head the image became weak - I liked the top of the head though. One of my students had a haircut like the one in the painting, so I tried that out and Hey Presto! I really enjoy the disjunction between the immutably classical quality of the pose, the romantic (germanic?) yearning melancholy of the eyes, and the punky connotations of the hair. For me this is one of the measures of a successful painting: incongruity made seamlessly whole. I can't buy into, or enjoy paintings which attempt to bring together disparate elements, but fail to knot them together, or that do so in a glib way... For me painting has to be more than simple collage or just a pick and mix of juicy pre-existing cultural signifiers. You have to grind imagery through the mill of your subjectivity, to re-inhabit, colonize, and weave it into a transfigured, new constellation. Yes, we live surrounded by images, yes our experience of the "real" is always mediated, but without the desperate hope and determination to stamp things with the mark of our inner-reality, we are doomed to solipsistic repetition."