01 April 2014

Come see the penny whistlers Tretchikoff painted!

Robert Sithole. By Günther Komnick
The boy in the black-in-white photo is Robert Sithole, one of the Kwela Kids (1958). 

Penny Whistlers. By Vladimir Tretchikoff

You can also see him and his Cape Town band in Tretchikoff's Penny Whistlers, which was painted around the same time.

Now, you can see this marvellous photo and many others at Günther Komnick's show at Bellville, Cape Town.

Komnick took those images in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he walked the streets with his camera and captured the daily lives of people living in the Bo-Kaap, District Six and central Cape Town.

Accompanying the exhibition is Günther Komnick’s coffee table book on the same subject.
Cape Town Memories of the ‘60s

Exhibition dates: Sat 22 March – Wed 16 April
Venue: art.b Gallery, Bellville Library Centre, Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville

31 March 2014

Some crazy stuff

The image to the left is a new creation by a South African artist Kobus Walker. And to the right is his inspiration, Tretchi's Miss Wong.

Walker calls his picture Starry Starry Night Mandela. It appeared on the cover of the current issue of the Collector magazine (Johannesburg).

I wonder what was really taking place in the man's head when he fantasised about Mandela as a Chinese vixen.


Wait, this is not the only Tretchikoff tribute Walker has done! Here's more:


Still not enough? Then see another dozen of most bizzarre and twisted Tretchikoff-inspired pictures!

18 March 2014

Legendary Tretchikoff painting goes on sale

Blind Beggar (c. 1943)

This picture, which is being offered tomorrow, 19 March, at the The South African Sale by Bonhams, represents an aspect of Tretchikoff's art that you probably were not aware of until now.

It is, in a way, a legendary work. Only black-and-white reproductions of the painting existed. This is the first time in over sixty years when we have a chance to see it as it is, in colour.

Blind Beggar is the Master of the Exotic at his most sombre. Executed without even a hint of glamour, it demonstrates that the scope of Tretchikoff's work was much broader than usually believed.

Tretchikoff's mentors in Shanghai in the 1930s often painted local 'types': coolies, beggars, workers and monks. For these Russian émigré artists, it was a way of learning the 'soul' of the Orient.

Tretchikoff produced this canvas in Jakarta, under Japanese occupation. He had just started painting full-time.

One day in 1943, he and his Javanese lover and muse Leonora Moltema saw a beggar at the side of the road, staring sightlessly at the sky. Tretchikoff found the image so evocative that he invited the man to sit for him.

'He was in rags, an old man thrilled by the novelty of the occasion', recounted the artist. 'He chatted as we worked. I painted him with his hand outstretched, leaning on his staff. And behind him I painted the blackness of a void, the darkness of his world.'

In 1948, in Cape Town, the Blind Beggar, was among the works Tretchikoff submitted to the newly convened committee that had to determine whether his paintings merited exhibition at the Association of Arts gallery. This was supposed to be his first one-man show after the war. The committee rejected his submission, which marked a beginning of his confrontation with the South African art establishment.

Eventually, Tretchikoff rented a private gallery and had his first exhibition in South Africa. It proved to be a phenomenal success, which turned the previously unknown artist into a celebrity almost overnight. Blind Beggar adorned the cover of the catalogue of his shows that year.

After slight alterations, this painting travelled with Tretchikoff to the US, for his first tour of North America in 1953. In San Jose, California, it was purchased by Dorothy and Vaughn Hunter. Vaughn Hunter, an architect, designed the Rosicrucian Museum building where the Tretchikoff exhibition was held.

Since then, the work was in a private collection in the US.

Tretchikoff at Bonhams

Zulu Maiden (1958)

Tomorrow, 19 March, at the The South African Sale, which will take place at New Bond Street, Bonhams will be offering as many as seven paintings by Vladimir Tretchikoff. Here are the three most interesting ones.

Blind Beggar (c. 1943)



Wajang Dancer (c. 1943-4)



27 December 2013

Tretchikoff is 100!

Yesterday was Vladimir Tretchikoff's centenary. He was born on 26 December (Old Style: 13 December) 1913.

19 December 2013

Green Lady - beautiful body!

© 2013 Emma Hack

If you happen to be in Adelaide, Australia, in February 2014, go and see this amazing work by a local artist, Emma Hack.

She's the one who produced body art featured in Australian singer Gotye's hit video Somebody That I Used to Know.

Hack will showcase her new work - women body-painted in iconic images from the 1950 - at the Adelaide Fringe from 14 February.

Her artistic statement goes like this:

'The beauty behind some of the world's most gorgeous images of woman are filled with intrigue and a deeper sense of how women have been viewed throughout the mid 20th century. Beautiful women captures the sensitivity of Hack's creations, inspired by artists, cultures and filmmakers views of woman from the past.'

© 2013 Emma Hack

01 December 2013

Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl Unveiled at Delaire Graff Estate

Ms Pon-su-san with the Chinese Girl painting
On Friday 29th November 2013, Vladimir Tretchikoff’s iconic painting Chinese Girl returned home to South Africa, unveiled at Delaire Graff Estate by Tretchikoff’s original model, Monika Pon-su-san.

The piece, which is said to be one of the most reproduced and recognisable paintings in the world was acquired by Chairman of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff OBE in March 2013.

Commenting on the painting Mr Graff said: “As a young man, I noticed the image of Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl continuously displayed in many different locations in print form.

“It was the first piece of art that made an impact on me, and I believe ignited my interest and passion for art. You can imagine my surprise to have learned of the sale of the original painting and of course, my decision to buy it was immediate.”
Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Daughter, Mimi Mercorio and Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Granddaughter, Natasha Swift

The unveiling of Chinese Girl was marked by a special fundraising event in support of Graff Diamonds’ charitable foundation For Africa’s Children Every Time (FACET), which aims to support the education, health and well-being of the people of sub-Saharan Africa.

Guests were treated to insights from leading Tretchikoff experts; Andrew Lamprecht (Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town), Boris Gorelik (Writer, Historian and Tretchikoff Biographer) and Stephan Welz (Managing Director at Strauss & Co) followed by a delicious four course menu accompanied by Delaire Graff wine pairings and a charity auction.

All proceeds raised at the unveiling will be used to support FACET’s three charitable initiatives in Lesotho, Botswana and the winelands of Stellenbosch.