Magazine article New African

UK: Charles the Black. (the Arts)

Magazine article New African

UK: Charles the Black. (the Arts)

Article excerpt

Britain's king-in-waiting was recently painted black, just to see how the future monarch would look in black skin as head of the Commonwealth. Nick Hordern went to meet the Russian-born painter behind it all.

I have seen the future king of England -- and he is black. That is the depiction of "HRH The Prince of Wales" which went on show in London's fashionable Belgravia in September The "Black Prince" painted by the Russian-born British artist, Alla Tkachuk, is one of a series of unusual and innovative portraits of Prince Charles. When Alla unveiled the portraits in September, she had travelled an artistic road that had taken her to the upper echelons of British society, from the Ukraine to Highgrove, and a royal sitting at Prince Charles' Gloucestershire residence.

"What is skin colour?," the petite, green-eyed 36-year-old graduate of Kiev University, asks rhetorically.

She drew inspiration to paint the future head of the Commonwealth as a black because she wanted to portray him as of different ethnic background.

"A portrait should not just be a photographic reflection," Alla says. "The question of blackness is appropriate because he will be the royal figurehead of a kingdom of many races. He has portrayed England as a multicultural nation, and of many faiths."

She continues: "Charles is an avant-garde, and at first society often thinks his opinions a little strange -- only to later fall inline. He supports many good causes through his charities. Race no longer enters into the equation in the identity of Modern Man.

"Although he belongs to the Establishment, he is really a step ahead and I thought if I portray his skin colour as black, society would think again. In the picture, he is black but he is easy to distinguish as Prince Charles. Perhaps racists and those unwittingly prejudiced could begin to change their perception of skin colour."

Alla, once a refugee from the former Soviet Union, has lived in Britain for 13 years. As a child, she painted her portraits in toothpaste. "I drew a painting that pleased my mother. The following morning the paste had run and my painting had disappeared! My mother sped to Germany to buy some oils and a canvas. …

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