With his works, Chris Drange turns the icons of the smartphone generation into literal icons. He snatches their selfies from the stream of images online and places them in a context that demands attention. Instead of fast scrolling, Drange calls for contemplation, which is missing on social media because the next selfie is always waiting. Kylie Jenner, the 23-year-old influencer from the Kardashian clan, made her fortune by selling cosmetics. “It's the power of social media,” Jenner says in order to explain her success, which stems from the fact that she herself promotes her products on Instagram. Young women become entrepreneurs and brands, they advertise what brings in advertising money, be it luxury items or detox tea. “In the past, worshiping relics promised healing. Today, however, we no longer have healing problems, but rather validity problems,” says Drange.
Drange understands his works as allegories of youth and beauty, but also of transience. At the beginning of the 15th century, it was no longer only saints and kings who were worthy of a picture, but also normal citizens who could afford commissioning artists to paint their portraits. Even then, however, a portrait had to fit the projected image of the sitter and make him or her look better than in real life. A portrait ensured presence and duration inasmuch as the painting continued to exist after the death of the sitter. While Richard Prince uses the selfies taken by influencers for his own purposes, Drange exaggerates them in the medium of painting. And he does so without a commission.