STUART BRISLEY, Semenal Sequences, 1995-96

Semenal Sequences, 1995-96

Acrylic on canvas


This work is derived from a common view that the fortunes of the  Princess of Wales were influenced by the press. The portrait is derived from an image of Diana on the front page of the Daily Mirror in 1994, 1995 or possibly 96. She is sitting in the driving seat of a car with the window up in the rain. The drips of rain are caught running  down the window of the drivers door.

She is looking into the night. She appears as passive and isolated inside the metal box and yet  at the same time wields considerable power, aided and abetted by the media who unleash both aspects of her condition. She is not responding to the photographer. In the title “Semenal Sequences” semenal may be understood to be formative, influential, groundbreaking, pioneering, original, innovative, major, important.

In Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary seminal is described thus: pertaining to or of the nature of seed or semen: generative notably creative or influential in future development….
The intention behind the painting was to express the paradoxical position of the press in being party to the contradictions which arguably shortened Diana’s life.

The rain on the window has been changed to suggest the presence of semen as though the use of her image intended to encourage notions of fantasy of union with a despoiled and despoiling royal figure. It marks the kind of prurient opportunism of the press with regard to symbols of power in this case monarchy itself. In the market economies everything, but everything is up for grabs. To quote Marx and Engels from the Communist Manifesto now apparently revered as a modernist work of Art “all that is solid melts into air”.

Semenal Sequences was painted in 1995-6, a year before her death on the 31st of August 1997. On the right side of her portrait there is a dark mirror image sensing   that the future would not be positive. The paradoxes in her life were publicly exploited for profit, while the reality, masked and hidden, was a disaster in the making.

Stuart Brisley November 5 2009