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Britain's Queen Elizabeth shown as 21st century icon

Chris Levine, the artist who in 2004 created an acclaimed holographic portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, is back with a set of pictures selected from among the 8,000 or so he took at the original sittings.

Artist Chris Levine talks about his exhibition of images of Britain's Queen Elizabeth at the StolenSpace Gallery in London March 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Stephen Hird)

But this time Levine, who describes himself as a light artist, has manipulated the pictures in a bid to do for the British monarch what Andy Warhol did for Marilyn Monroe.

"The emphasis is modernity. I am putting the Queen into the pop culture," Levine told Reuters as he set about mounting the pictures and accompanying laser light show on Tuesday.

Among the images that go on show to the public on Friday are one with the Queen's face erased, one showing just the back of her head and another with her eyes closed.

Levine said he was inspired by his muse Warhol, whose portraits of Monroe helped make her a 20th century icon.

"I want to do the same for the Queen in the 21st century," he said. "These images are done with real affection. There is no disrespect intended here.

"Showing the back of her head simply means she is in front, leading us," he added. "She has seen some of the images and was enthusiastic. I intend to send her a boxed set."

Buckingham Palace said the Queen was aware of the exhibition, but would not be commenting on it.

"We do not offer any comment on the art itself. We leave it for members of the public, and others, to offer their views," a spokesman said.

Levine had two sittings and two private meetings with the Queen while working on the 2004 hologram, which was commissioned by the island of Jersey to commemorate 800 years of allegiance to the crown.

The title "Equanimity" was his original working title which was supposed to reflect the inner peace he hoped to capture in his depiction of the monarch -- a goal that critics generally accepted he achieved.

Star portrait photographer Mario Testino, a friend of Levine, described the hologram as the best portrait of the Queen he had ever seen, adding that this was because he had never photographed her himself.

Levine said that during his meetings with the Queen she expressed interest in his habit of meditating for two hours a day, adding that he was sure she too found space in her daily life to find inner calm.

"I am sure she meditates in her own way. She is so strong and has been through so much," Levine said. "You can relate to her like your own granny."

The show "Lightness of Being" is at the StolenSpace art gallery in London's Brick Lane until March 23.

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