Pakpoom Silaphan's exhbition is a sign of the times

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The Independent Culture

It's the Queen as you've never seen Her Majesty before – painted in white emulsion on an old Coca-Cola advertising sign found in Thailand. Together with other high-profile figures such as John Lennon, Che Guevara, Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali, she features in Pakpoom Silaphan's latest exhibition, which opens today at London's Scream Gallery.

Silaphan, who also uses his emulsion and collage techniques on Fanta signs, is interested in the power of advertising and popular culture. "Growing up in Thailand, I had seen pictures of these people but I didn't really know what they were about or how much they influenced the culture in the West," he explains. His knowledge of our popular figures was so scant, that at the time he thought Warhol was a scientist because of his messy hair. He moved to London to study art, stayed for 10 years, and it wasn't until he went back to Thailand that he rediscovered his childhood collection of advertising signs. "When I went back, the meaning of the signs and cultural figures I had seen before had changed."

Although the exhibition focuses entirely on vintage advertising, using found objects is a signature Silaphan trait. His Last Supper series was based on 13 warning lamps found on various building sites, which he adorned with a single figure from da Vinci's original painting, while discarded ironing boards became sculptures inscribed with the first three pages of the Book of Genesis from the Bible.