An artist has defended his work after visitors to an art exhibition were shocked to see a painting of newly coronated King Charles wearing a Jim’ll Fix It medal.
The portrait, dubbed The Company One Keeps, depicts Charles wearing the medal - alluding to the King’s previous relationship with the notorious paedophile.
Art fans visiting the Artists Open House displays said they were “upset” by the “disrespectful” portrait. The artist behind the piece has stood up for his work, adding it is the job of the artist to “provoke debates”.
Saltdean-based artist Jake Fern said: “No one is talking about the fact that he [then Prince Charles] was friends with one of the worst paedophiles in history. Or that his brother [Andrew]was friends with [paedophile] Jeffrey Epstein.
“A lot of people clock it and then they give me eye contact.
“No one really wants to talk about it but the job of the artist is to provoke debates. It’s looking at the evidence in a critical way.
“I think I’m going to do Andrew next but I don’t know how.”
King Charles, then Prince of Wales, had contact via letters with Jimmy Savile between 1986 and 2006, including discussing the Royal Family's image.
After his death in 2011 Savile was revealed to be a prolific paedophile who abused over 450 people.
Jake, 49, put the artwork on display at the Artists Open House event in Albert Road in Seven Dials, Brighton. A member of the public who saw it was horrified.
The visitor said: “At first my wife and I were impressed by the likeness that the ‘artist’ had captured of King Charles III but on closer inspection we noticed that instead of his authentic regalia the king was portrayed wearing a ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ badge.
“We were left feeling somewhat upset by the piece of art that depicts our recently coronated monarch in a degrading light.”
The artwork was hung in Rottingdean Heritage Art Gallery, in October 2021.
Judy Stevens, director of Artists Open Houses, said: "Artists Open Houses is an open platform festival where visitors are welcomed into over 170 homes and studios of artists across the city and beyond.
"Opinions expressed by artists can be controversial and do not necessarily reflect the views of AOH.
"Artists are entitled to present political pieces so long as they meet our terms and conditions and are not discriminatory. The key is to visit the houses, see the artwork, meet the artists and form your own views.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the portrait.