The Art of the Problem! Classic paintings reimaged to depict global and societal issues

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Posted 2 years ago
  • Series of iconic artworks given a modern makeover to highlight the issues which most concern Gen Zs in the UK in 2022
  • Artworks released just as COP27 takes place 
  • Paintings redesigned to highlight global warming, water pollution, fly tipping and loneliness
  • New artworks mark the launch of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition which challenges young people ages 16-25 to solve societal problems using technology

John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’, John Everett Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ and Lowry’s ‘Coming Home from the Mill’ are amongst a series of classic artworks that have been given a modern makeover to highlight some of the most pressing issues facing the world today.

The re-imagined artworks were created by acclaimed digital artist Quentin Devine to mark the launch of to mark the launch of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition which encourages young people to help solve societal and global problems using technology.

The pictures were selected following a survey commissioned by Samsung of 2,000 young adults in the UK aged 16-25 to ascertain the top ten issues they are most concerned about in 2022.  The study revealed that the top issue young people are concerned about is global warming (61%), followed by the cost-of-living crisis (55%) and racial in-equality (49%)*.

Digital artist Quentin Devine was commissioned by Samsung to take some of the issues concerning the Gen-Z audience to reimagine historical artworks as if they had been drawn today, representing the modern world.

‘The Hay Wain’ (1821) has been updated as if Constable had painted the picture in the summer of 2022 when Britain and Europe witnessed record temperatures. The once lush riverside scene is rendered barren surrounded by scorched earth in a new version which clearly warns of the dangers of Global warming

Sir John Everett Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ (1851-2) is reworked to reflect the pollution of Britain’s rivers, streams and waterways which dominated the UK news cycle this summer.

Richard Wilson’s ‘The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham’ (1762) illustrates the devastating impact that fly tipping can have – as shopping trolleys, mattresses and assorted household junk is added to the scene.

Seurat’s ‘A Sunday on La Grande Jatte’ (1884) meanwhile, illustrates the epidemic of loneliness which has come to light following Covid-19 pandemic, the crowds reduced to a lone person sat head bowed in quiet contemplation.

Finally, Lowry’s acclaimed ‘Coming Home from the Mill’ (1928) is reconfigured to show a single worker reflecting the change in working patterns and again highlighting the issue of isolation.

The research revealed that 85% of 16–25-year-olds believe that as a generation they care more about the planet than any generation before them with 94% believing that they are more open to talk about subjects that were previously considered as taboo.

The Gen Z audience also believe that subjects such as loneliness and social isolation (33%), cost of living (31%) and disability discrimination (29%) are not talked about openly enough in society. 

The artworks are being displayed until the 17th November at Samsung KX – the brand’s flagship store in Kings Cross.

Sophie Edgerley Harris, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Samsung Electronics UK commented: 

“The artworks that Quentin Devine has created aim to illustrate in a unique way the societal topics that young people in the UK today are most motivated to positively contribute to. By reimagining some of these scenes using digital artistry, we hope more people will be inspired to enter their tech-for-good idea into this year’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition. 

Previous winners Alec and Ramneek devised innovative approaches; with smart lockers supporting people experiencing homelessness and a tech-forward mobility aid to help people who are visually impaired. We can’t wait to see the ideas of our 2023 competition entrants.”

Digital artist Quentin Devine said:

“Reinventing the classics with a modern twist was a huge challenge but something of a labour of love- as many of the issues highlighted are close to my heart. The pictures highlighting Britain’s past and present, but there is a lot we can do about the future and that is why projects like ‘Solve for Tomorrow’ are so important.”

Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition is a global initiative that challenges young people, between the ages of 16 – 25, to use technology in creative ways to help improve social issues.  

Successful entrants will take part in a series of workshops and one-to-one mentoring with Samsung experts across a 6-month programme to support the evolution of an idea into a reality. Two winning teams will receive a further three months of support from Samsung UK and Startup Discovery School, to help them realise the scope of their ideas, in addition to a £10,000 cash prize. 

The Solve for Tomorrow 2023 Competition is now open. For more information on how to enter visit https://www.samsung.com/uk/solvefortomorrow/

*The top 10 issues young adults in the UK are concerned about:

  1. Global Warming / rising temperatures (61%)
  2. Cost of living (55%)
  3. Racism / racial inequality (49%)
  4. Energy Crisis (41%)
  5. Water Pollution (38%)
  6. Loneliness / Isolation (32%)
  7. Mental Health Awareness (28%)
  8. Poverty (28%
  9. Littering / Fly Tipping (25%)
  10. Disability Discrimination (23%)