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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 February, 2005, 13:47 GMT
Iraq torture inspires pop artist
Awe Shucks copyright Gerald Laing
Retired pop artist Gerald Laing is shocked into returning to painting
A "pop" artist has decided to come out of retirement to exhibit controversial paintings from Iraq.

Gerald Laing's pictures are on show in England for the first time at Kings College in Cambridge.

He was famous for pictures of American heroic characters such as astronauts, sport stars, actresses and models.

"I'm shocked to see people like heroes I used to paint now involved in torturing people," he said.

The sculptor has returned to painting after a gap of 35 years because of the press images of torture in Iraqi jails run by the US forces.

I see the same kinds of people today doing such extraordinary things I had to paint them
Gerald Laing

He first hit the headlines 40 years ago with a collection of images depicting optimism in society after World War II.

For most of the 60s he lived in America, but returned to Scotland in 1969 to focus on sculpting.

The press photographs of the war in Iraq stimulated him to take up painting again.

The latest images are likely to prove as controversial as those 40 years ago as Laing takes issue with the American approach to the war.

"I used to paint in the early 60s icons of American heroic figures like astronauts, navy pilots, sky divers, drag racers and their female equivalents such as starlets, film actresses and models.

"I see the same kinds of people today doing such extraordinary things I had to paint them," he said.

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