Vladimir Tretchikoff – a Russian artist renowned for his paintings, inspired by his early life in China, Singapore, Indonesia, and later in South Africa – might have been crowned the King of Kitsch, but his work still inspires …
“Unbeknown to many, Tretchikoff was the first artist to make and sell lithographic reproductions of his work, making it affordable and accessible to the ordinary person,” states the Tretchikoff Foundation – custodians of Tretchikoff’s artistic property. “At the time, art critics objected saying he was devaluing and commercialising art. To which he responded, ‘Why should my art be available only to the rich and famous? I want everyone to enjoy my art.’”
“Chinese Girl”, Tretchikoff’s most recognisable painting, was sold for a record £982 050 (R13,8 million at the time) at the South African art sale at Bonhams in London.
It is easy to understand why he was also dubbed “the people’s painter”, but Tretchikoff’s approach made sound business sense as well… His reproductions were so popular it was rumoured that Tretchikoff was the world’s richest artist after Picasso.
The 24-hour news service eNews Channel Africa reports on what art lecturer Andrew Lamprecht said: “Back in the day, his prints were found in almost every household in South Africa and it was very much considered kitsch, but, nowadays, kitsch is back and pretty cool. So there’s an element of being hip and retro …”
The Tretchikoff Foundation adds: “Call it what you wish – urban sophisticate, retro kitsch, nostalgic resurrection, counter culture – Tretchi is just at the beginning of coming into his own centre of gravity. Commercial and connoisseur, the record sale of the ‘Fruits of Bali’ for R2,74 million would indicate that the art world has finally succumbed to Tretchi’s talent as well.”
“Chinese Girl”, Tretchikoff’s most recognisable painting, was sold for a record £982 050 (R13,8 million at the time) at the South African art sale at Bonhams in London. The piece was bought by British businessman and jeweller, Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds International, who owns the Delaire Graff Estate near Stellenbosch.
Another famous Tretchikoff masterpiece, Miss Wong, was bought by two brothers for R4 million at an auction in Cape Town. The South African duo has made it their mission to keep his work in the country where he lived and painted.
Thanks to the Tretchikoff Project, the commercial arm of the Tretchikoff Foundation (headed by the artist’s granddaughter, Natasha Swift, and her business partner, Ari Lazarus) anyone can own their own Tretchikoff – no millionaire status required …
When Natasha was a young girl, her grandfather shared with her that the secret to living a fulfilled life was to have an inspiring dream and to find that one thing that she loved doing and, no matter what obstacles came her way, to continue to do it – always holding the dream as inspiration
“The Tretchikoff Project is tasked with introducing Tretchikoff’s iconic works and ethos to a new generation of art lovers, through the development and application of his works onto a range of home and lifestyle products – under the umbrella of the Tretchikoff Brand.”
So you can have your own Tretchi cushion, coaster, lampshade or vintage print …
“When Natasha was a young girl, her grandfather shared with her that the secret to living a fulfilled life was to have an inspiring dream and to find that one thing that she loved doing and, no matter what obstacles came her way, to continue to do it – always holding the dream as inspiration,” the Tretchikoff Brand’s website points out.
“Natasha has lived with her grandfather’s advice for the better part of twenty years – what she knows is that when we do this, magic happens! We enthuse our lives with passion, with purpose and a reason for being. We are challenged out of our comfort zone, access our unique creative talents, and, as a result, develop a strong sense of self.
“Our dream then, through the Tretchikoff Brand, is to communicate this ethos. So, we’re sharing one of life’s simple little secret’s brought to you, for example, on a striking ‘OMG that’s amazing’ dinnerware, or a funky coffee mug, or a ‘where did you get that, I must have one’ handbag.”
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