28 November 2014

Vox populi

Incredible Tretchikoff has the combination of a good story and a compelling trek through questions of aesthetics and popularity, contrasts that sit remarkably easily together. Most important, it reads extremely well.
William Feaver, author of Pitmen Painters; biographer of Lucian Freud

Get the book here while it's available

06 May 2014

Blast from the past

You might remember my post about this 1960s shirt. It was sold at I was Lord Kitchener's Valet, a legendary shop of the Carnaby Street era.

Well, Sean still has one of these shirts. Here is what he writes:

'It's printed in green ink on what was once white but has now aged into a beige color. My father bought it at the store in 68 or 67, I think. It hung in the back of his closet for years until I saw it and wanted it. Now it hangs in the back of mine. I haven't had occasion to wear it in a while.'

The shirts were produced illegally, that is without the artist's permission. In 1970, Tretchikoff sued the shop and won the case.

Maybe it's time for Tretchikoff Project, the official manufacturers of the artist's merchandise to bring out a new 'edition' of it? Just for old times' sake...

Tretchikoff's Birth of Venus (c 1955)

Many thanks to Sean for sharing photos of his prized possession.

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)