'Powerful' portrait of apocalyptic cowboy Tony Blair exhibited in London

Richard Hamilton's portrait of Tony Blair entitled Shock and Awe

Richard Hamilton's portrait of Tony Blair entitled Shock and Awe

A 'powerful political image' of Tony Blair as an apocalyptic cowboy has gone on display in London.

Richard Hamilton's 2007 portrait of the former Prime Minister, aptly named Shock and Awe, has taken pride of place in the Modern Moral Matters exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery.

The message of the image, which shows Blair in a cowboy shirt, jeans and boots with two holstered guns, set in front of an ominous, smouldering landscape, is clear.

The portrait also has an undeniable link to one of America's ultimate cowboys, former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Earlier this year Mr Hamilton defended his right to paint whatever he wants to portray, regardless of how controversial the resulting image is.

He said: 'What I always say is: I do whatever I feel like.

'People don't seem to understand that an artist is free to do whatever he wants, and I've always relished that possibility.'

Modern Moral Matters, the first major exhibition of Mr Hamilton’s work in London since 1992, will run from March 3 to April 25.

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