As both an installation artist and a filmmaker, powerful visual narratives invariably underpin Isaac Julien’s artworks. He often explores political issues including class, cultural history and identity and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001.
The Leopard (Western Union Series No.7) relates to Julien’s multi-screen installation Western Union: Small Boats (2007), which blurs the line between fiction, documentary, fantasy and reality. Dangerous migrant journeys across the Mediterranean from North Africa are reconstructed, with some of the travellers being rescued and moved into a decadent Baroque palace.
The director Luchino Visconti filmed The Leopard at the same location in 1963, from which this work’s title is derived. The luxurious interior of the palace is evident here, with elaborate chandeliers, thrones and gold mouldings adorning the room, while a leopard is painted upon the tiled floor.