"The creation of art is not the fulfillment of a need but the creation of a need.
The world never needed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony until he created it. Now we could not live without it."

-Louis I. Kahn, Architect

Friday, 29 January 2010

The "Other Portrait" of Professor Stephen Hawking

(click on this picture for zooming and more information)
My portrait had the ambition to not only convey Professor Hawking's sense of determination in life ("against the odds") but also to include some of his scientific ideas (see full picture below). That his greatness has also to do with his intellectual struggle with his life-time scientific research (in brief: the "Theory of Everything"). Plus, his sense of humour and irony which you discover when reading his books (hence his smile in my portrait among other "subtilities"....) A portrait that would convey inspiration and respect, not "distracted" by his physical handicap (MND/ALS) as it is so often the case.

It is also part of my project to build a bridge between the worlds of arts and sciences. To try provide an answer to C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures" essay. In Professor Hawking's case, it involved me attempting to grasp Bohr's and Feynman's quantum mechanics or Einstein's general relativity concepts and "translate" them visually.

It 'll be a long and lonely road, I am afraid.

This portrait of Professor Stephen Hawking unveiled last November at the Royal Society in London, was commissioned to artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg soon after I was in contact and met with Professor Hawking- spending an afternoon in his office to start his portrait.
Tai-Shan has done a powerful rendering of Hawking's portrait, giving a sense of struggle and determination.

Some other portraits of Professor Stephen Hawking:


  1. I am very moved by these pictures. Our family has been touched by ALS, so they are especially moving to me.
    B. Ross
    Georgia, USA

  2. Science is the Conscious mind communicating with the Unconscious mind and Art is the Unconscious mind dominating the Conscious ...the mixing of the two can be very potent.We are sub Atomic Particles of the Infinate where Every thing is Everything .Words inspired by these Impressive Paintings as seen by...
    Paul Sykes