Steven J. Levin, Portrait of Darth Vader
56" x 46", Oil on Linen

© Steven J. Levin, 29 Hats


“This is an imagined picture and not really an image of Vader at any particular point in the storyline, so I have taken a few liberties there. He is the most interesting character to me, the central figure to the story, and a tortured one, the golden boy gone terribly wrong. The emperor torments him with dreams and promises, carefully driving a wedge between Anakin and the Jedi sect, his only family. At the crucial moment, when the emperor reveals himself, Anakin might have achieved his destiny right then and destroyed Palpatine – but he didn’t, and thus set himself upon a long dark road that only ended when he finally does fulfill his destiny.

In the films, there is the recurring theme of people leading double lives and I wanted that somehow in the painting, thus Anakin is depicted in the Vader garb but with the mask off revealing an unscarred face. The setting is Mustafar, the planet where Anakin seals his own fate, and thus where Vader was born. The thing that intrigued me about the star wars saga is the idea of the Jedi as protector knights and conversely of Darth Vader as a kind of dark knight.

The portrait is of him in that role, as a knight might have been painted, with sword in hand, and helmet under his arm, but hopefully capturing some of the conflict in his character. The clouds are dark and foreboding, but the light breaking through above is symbolic of his eventual redemption.”

-- Steven J. Levin