09 October 2013

Miss Wong: forever young

Rian Hughes. Miss Wong, 2001
This 21st-century version of Tretchikoff's Miss Wong was created by British graphic designer, typographer and illustrator Rian Hughes.

© myfonts.com

‘Tretchikoff’s art is considered beautiful and evocative – two terms you will rarely hear mentioned by modern fine artists, but that has strong resonance for people in the real world,’ says Rian. ‘Tretchikoff refused to play the art gallery game. What we see displayed in establishment galleries is generally controlled by a self-appointed aesthetic elite who place themselves between the product and the consumer. That’s why I like graphic design and illustration. It’s democratic, it’s art for reproduction. It reaches a wide audience in the same manner that music can, and thus can be a vibrant part of the cultural landscape.’

08 October 2013

Lenka has died

Leonora Schmidt-Salomonson passed away on 1 August, according to the obituary in today's Times. She was 99 years old.

Lady of the Tropics
Lenka, as Tretchikoff called her (a diminutive for the Russian name Lena), was his model, his muse and his lover during World War 2, when he lived in Jakarta, released on parole by Japanese occupation authorities. 

Red Jacket
In October 2012, Red Jacket, one of the many Tretchikoff's portraits of Lenka, was sold for  £337,250 at Bonhams, London.

Watch Yvonne du Toit's documenrary Red Jacket to learn more about Lenka's story. To order a DVD, write to joyride@xsinet.co.za

A tribute to Pricess Di with a twist

Diana Tretchikoff by York-born artist David Kettley.

Kettley enjoyed Tretchikoff’s work since his early teens when the prints were sold in high-street shops.

‘Tretchikoff’s painting of Miss Wong has been an important icon to me’, says the artist. ‘When I decided to embark on a portrait of Diana, I wanted to emphasise her own iconic status. Combining the two images gave me the opportunity to show my respect to both Tretchikoff and Diana.’

07 October 2013

One of the many 'Green Ladies'

An advert for the Green Lady label (US). They made cool t-shirts in the 1990s.
The name Green Lady was an open vessel that we could pour different ideas into’, says the label founder Todd St John. ‘We’d come across the Tretchikoff painting and a similar one by another artist occasionally in thrift stores. Also, there was a Star Trek episode that featured a character that was a green alien woman. These were all of the same era, so we were struck by the fact that these similar images were appearing in multiple places and not sure why.’

Vina as a 'green Orion animal woman' (Star Trek)

06 October 2013

The birth of cool

This Birth of Venus shirt was sold in I was Lord Kitchener's Valet, a Swinging London boutique where Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton bought their vintage military jackets in the 1960s. The designer of the Sgt Pepper's album cover was inspired by the display in its window. The painting on the left was produced by Tretchikoff (who else?)

05 October 2013

Chinese Girl a la Chow

Thank you, Stanley Chow, for sending me your signed work!

The first mash-up

Here's the cover of Raymond Williams's book Culture (1981). This is probably the first mash-up of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Tretchi's Chinese Girl. The icon of popular art meets the icon of 'high' art.

04 October 2013

Blue picture of Mrs Thatcher!

Tretchikoff used to show interviewers an issue of Punch with the headline: ‘Free inside. Blue picture of Mrs T!’ ‘Just look’, he would say. ‘You will laugh like blazes!’ The picture on the insert was a portrait of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with an extraordinarily bluish complexion. The Iron Lady was dressed in a yellow Asian gown, which showed beyond any doubt that this was a take on Tretchi’s Chinese Girl.

Roger Birchall, then admissions tutor at Dartington Hall School in Totnes, Devon, painted this picture. He says that Punch had never published prints before and did not do it again before disappearing from the news-stands. ‘It was 1981, and I wanted to find a peaceful, humorous way of getting at the Tory PM’, recounts Mr Birchall. ‘The visual metaphor for my reworking of Thatcher’s head is that, in my opinion, she was cheap, deeply flawed and anti-intellectual. To me, that was very much like a Chinese Girl print.

When journalists asked Tretchikoff how he felt about Birchall’s Blue Lady, he said he was flattered: ‘Tretchi is happy! The Chinese Girl was born in 1952 and she’s still going strong!

The Sunday Telegraph, 1997

From Incredible Tretchikoff by Boris Gorelik (Art/ Books, London, 2013)

03 October 2013

iTunes loves Tretchikoff

Great to see my book Incredible Tretchikoff is available on the iBookstore

Dangerously close to The Louvre

One of my favourite Tretchikoff mash-ups was produced by Beau Bo D'Or, a British collage artist in 2008. Here's what he writes about himself: 'I mangle pictures and have done the odd cartoon. Have done work for The Guardian, Channel 4 news, Independent, The Times and have had work nicked by most of the rest of the newspapers and a satirical TV show.'

It's worth noting that a couple of years before, South African artist Braam Kruger produced a painting called Tretchikoff da Vinci:

02 October 2013

Journey's End to be auctioned today

The legendary painting will (hopefully) be hammered off by Bonhams auctioneers in London on Wednesday, 2 October.

Amanda Botha, a Cape Town journalist, was friends with Tretchikoff in the 1960s and 1970s. She asked him once if the message of Journey's End was sad. He said: 'Of course, not! It’s wonderful. If things were to last forever, there will be no room for anything new and beautiful'.

Tretchikoff with the McCays, the original owners of Journey's End, next to the legendary painting.

01 October 2013

Green Lady Winehouse

British photographer Kate Friend came up with this portrait of two legends in one image: Amy Winehouse and Tretchi's 'Green Lady'.