Justin Bieber portrait in Sunderland ponders power of a modern-day idol

By Culture24 Reporter | 20 June 2013

An artist who has made a portrait of Justin Bieber as part of a fine art exhibition in Sunderland says the painting aims to spark a discussion about modern idolism and the history of religious icons.

An image of a painting of a young male pop star with a halo around his head
Sarah Martin, Bieber Fever© Sarah Martin
Sarah Martin, who is one of the up-and-coming artists in the Degree Show at the University of Sunderland, places a halo of gold around the singer’s head in her work, Bieber Fever.

“I started to look at idols in the modern day and how in contemporary culture we put our 'faith' into other idols, such as a teenager’s obsession with Justin Bieber,” says the 21-year-old Grimsby-born painter.

“I wanted the public to look at the painting of a young boy who has been put on a pedestal by the media and ask if he deserves to be portrayed as an idol worthy of admiration like that gained by religious idols in the past.

“Coming from a Roman Catholic family, religion has always been a big interest of mine.

“These types of idols in the modern day seem to have been created by media obsession.

"In the paintings I wanted to ask whether these contemporary idols compare to that of religious idols in the past, and whether they are worthy of this title.”

Held in a new art gallery created as part of a £6.5 million development at the university's Priestman Building, the portrait is on show to the public until tomorrow (June 21 2013).
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