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Derek Jarman was a leading British film-maker, artist, writer and vigorous campaigner for gay rights. In 1984 he was diagnosed HIV positive and he died from AIDS in 1994. The honesty with which he chronicled his illness earned him a considerable public reputation.

Using photographs, Richard Hamilton made this portrait after Jarman’s death. He shows him in front of one of his own paintings – apparently Ataxia – AIDS is Fun. The ironic title indicates Jarman’s defiant stance. Ataxia refers to the artist’s loss of physical control of his limbs when his illness attacked his central nervous system.

September 2004