My version of ‘lA lOGE’ by RENOIR which is in the Courtauld Gallery in London
We live in the age of fakery and most of it as a result of Alan Turin and his invention of the computer.
When I first started painting there were no short cuts. As a tourist artist, I produced a painting of some local scene and mostly holiday makers bought it to take home and remember their Suffolk holidays. Whether a simple water colour or a pastel or oil, in its way it was unique and all part of what I did and original to me. Of course, styles vary from painter to painter and quality also. I like to think I was somewhere in the middle and consequently making a half decent living from something I enjoyed doing.
The first time I became aware of fakery was when another ‘tourist artist’ who will remain nameless, produced a large painting of Southwold and sold it to a local woman. A couple of days later she came in to the gallery complete the payment and there on the gallery wall was an exact copy of the picture she had bought a few days before. The answer was an overhead projector and a photograph and some quick work by the painter to replace it. Highly indignant, her money was returned with apologies. She of course returned the picture. God knows what happened after that. He probably sold both versions at different venues.
Camera obscurer and overhead projectors have been used for years right back to the renaissance. Vermeer and Caravagio were thought to have indulged, once the optic lens had been invented. But to them, with genius talent, it was just a quick way to map out the picture and then to indulge their immense abilities with paint and form. After all, they had to make a living to. Nevertheless on seeing that copy, it was the first time I had come across such a thing and no, I didn’t rush out and buy an overhead projector myself.
These days anything is possible. One can take a photograph and with the right computer programme, it can be digitally converted first into a painting and then into any style that you require. If it’s a landscape, perhaps a Turner or if a portrait, then perhaps Whistler or Sergeant. Anything is possible. The print is then projected onto a canvas and with 3D printing even texture, crackle and impasto can be added.
I am sure that if I wrote an outline of a simple story, with the right programme, it could be turned into a Dickens or a Neville Shute. Anything and everything is possible.
The three pictures in this piece, are of copies I’ve done over the years. Below a Degas pastel and above, my favourite Vetriano called ‘The Valentine Rose’. He is well known for his use of obscurer and all the rest, and makes no secret of it. Still great original work. In the Vetriano original, I expanded the mantelpiece with the beginnings of a clock on it. In every copy I’ve done, there is always something personal that I’ve added. Little me running with the greats.
So my conclusions are that the age of originality is becoming obsolete and in my opinion we will be the poorer for it.