February 22, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Images of Gauguin in Tahiti discovered in photo album
Oprah Winfrey sells painting for $150M
Award-winning PA art teacher learnt to draw on sand
Artists Earn Their “Lunch Money”
From his boyhood in Texas to now, artist continues to make a statement with jaw-dropping murals



Images of Gauguin in Tahiti discovered in photo album
Experts believe that prints in the album show the artist, his mistress and a ship’s doctor

The only known photographs of Gauguin in Polynesia have been discovered in an album recently acquired by a Munich-based dealer. The album includes an image of a young Tahitian woman being kissed by the middle-aged artist, whose friend Dr Gouzer, a French ship’s doctor, is also shown with a local woman. The images provide a fresh insight into Gauguin’s life in Tahiti in 1896.

Two albums of Tahitian photographs taken by Jules Agostini came up for sale in a French provincial auction in July 2015. One was acquired by the dealer Daniel Blau and the other by the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. There were no references in the auction catalogue to photographs of Gauguin, and the one acquired by Blau sold for €5,875.

A decade ago Blau’s wife Maria first identified Gauguin in a Tahitian group photograph they had acquired earlier (based on comparisons with his self-portraits and earlier photographs taken in France). The photographer and the date of the image were then unknown, and the identification was not taken up by other Gauguin specialists. The album recently acquired by the Blau couple contains another print of the same image, identifies the photographer as Agostini and dates the print to 19 July 1896. Agostini was a friend of Gauguin’s. The album also includes an already known image of the artist’s house in Tahiti, inscribed “Habitation du peintre Gauguin”.

The album has two group photographs of what is captioned a “pique-nique”, although it appears to be little short of a banquet, held at Pointe Venus, ten kilometres from the capital, Papeete, on 19 July. Many of the European male guests, who are dressed very formally (along with floral crowns), seem to be French naval officers, while the females are all young Tahitian women wearing the long dresses introduced by Christian missionaries.

His mistress?

Gauguin, a notorious womaniser, seems to appear in two group photographs in the Blau album. In the first he is shown with two Tahitian women; kissing one and draping his hand on the breast of the other. In the second photograph he grins mischievously and reclines on the woman he had been kissing, with his hand on her breast. Blau speculates that she could well be Pahura, his very young mistress.

Pahura was the model or inspiration for many of Gauguin’s finest paintings, probably including Nevermore (1897), now at the Courtauld Gallery, London. In January 1897 Gauguin, then 48, wrote to his friend Armand Séguin: “I have a 15-year-old wife who cooks my simple everyday fare and gets down on her back for me whenever I want, all for the modest reward of a frock, worth ten francs, a month.”

Daniel Blau says he is “convinced” that the man depicted in the two group photographs is Gauguin. “Until recently I thought of Gauguin as a sick and aging man, but I now see him as a forceful artist, enjoying life and with a glint in his eyes,” he says.

Caroline Boyle-Turner, author of Paul Gauguin & the Marquesas (published by Vagamundo), is also convinced that it is the artist in the group photographs. She, too, suggests that his companion could well be his mistress. “Pahura was three months pregnant and her condition might well have been a source of joy for the artist, helping his ebullient mood,” she says.

The two group photographs are also included in the second Agostini album sold at a Bayeux Enchères auction on 13 July 2015, and which was acquired for €22,325 by the Musée du Quai Branly. The photographs in this album lack the detailed captions and dates of the Blau album. Christine Barthe, the museum’s head of photographic collections, says: “Some people see Gauguin in the album, but we need more than wishes.”

The morphine specialist who was Gauguin’s friend

Dr Gouzer, a ship’s doctor, is a crucial link helping to confirm the identification of Gauguin in two group photographs, since he and his ship, the Duguay-Trouin, appear in the Agostini album.

Identified by The Art Newspaper as Joseph Gouzer (born 1854, died 1901), he appears in the Blau album as “Docteur G”, standing intimately close to a Tahitian woman, Faona. His descendants have confirmed he is the man in the photo.

The friendship between Dr Gouzer and Gauguin has been largely overlooked (his first name is not cited in the Gauguin literature). Intriguingly, he was a specialist on morphine and in 1896, the year of his Tahitian visit, he published a book entitled Journal d’un Morphinomane, based on a diary by a medical colleague who had died of morphine addiction in what is now Vietnam. At that time Gauguin was regularly taking morphine to dull the pain of ulcers on his legs.

Gouzer was one of the very few buyers of Gauguin’s work in Tahiti—he bought Three Tahitian Women (for 100 francs). It was subsequently acquired by Walter Annenberg, who bequeathed it to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2002. Gauguin also gave Gouzer two drawings, including Study of Two Tahitian Heads (1896-97), which is now at the Art Institute of Chicago.

It is possible that Gouzer and Gauguin first met at the hospital in Papeete. Gauguin was there for treatment on his leg, from 6 to 14 July 1896. On 13 July he wrote to his friend Daniel de Monfreid to say that an officer would be taking “several clumsy canvases” to France.

Gouzer’s ship, the Duguay-Trouin, stopped at Tahiti several times, and in March 1897 Gouzer carried some of Gauguin’s paintings back to Paris.

Only one letter from Gauguin to Gouzer survives, from 1898, when the artist wrote: “I cannot contemplate returning to France, as you advise me... I have not said everything about Tahiti [in paint].” The Art Newspaper


Oprah Winfrey sells painting for $150M

Oprah Winfrey pulled off one of the biggest private art deals of 2016.

Bloomberg reports the talk show legend sold a painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt for $150 million to an unnamed Chinese buyer.

Already one of the world's richest people with a net worth of $2.9 billion, Winfrey originally purchased the "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" for $87.9 million at a Christie's auction in 2006.

Klimt created the painting in 1912 and it depicts the wife of an art patron and industrialist in Vienna.

The 19th-century painter was a prominent member of the Vienna Secession movement.

Winfrey loaned the painting anonymously to New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 2014, Business Insider reports.

The painting, which is currently on display in the Neue Galerie museum for Austrian and German art is being shown next to its predecessor, the "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I."

The painting was originally discovered as part of a series of paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War II, but given back to surviving members of the Bloch-Bauer family in 2006.

This is hardly Oprah's first major art sale. She unloaded a number of paintings from her collection in 2015. FOX News


Award-winning PA art teacher learnt to draw on sand

JURONG EAST, SINGAPORE: He grew up on a fruit farm, and his parents could not afford art materials.So his father taught him to draw on sand.

After teaching art for nearly 40 years, Mr Yap Tay Soon, 67, recently received an award from the People's Association (PA) for his service to the community.

Mr Yap still teaches students from primary school to university level at the Yuhua Zone 3 Recreational Centre in Jurong East.

He won a PA Stars Trainer merit award in 2015, and the Young Artists' Club (YAC), which he founded in 1986 with 16 students, celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.

Mr Yap, who is married with three children, told The New Paper that his teachers saw his potential and bought him art books and materials. He also worked part-time to finance himself.

In secondary school, he studied under Singapore pioneer artists Chen Wen Hsi, known for his avant-garde Chinese paintings, and Chen Chong Swee, co-founder of the Singapore Watercolour Society.

Mr Yap has done more than teach.

Allied educator Quek Hian Hua, 40, who studied with Mr Yap for nine years, said: "My family was not well-off, but I begged my mother to let me take art classes."

Seeing his determination, Mr Yap waived his fees for three years.

His other students included Mr Kelvin Tan, 37, who had trouble focusing in class and now runs an interior design firm, and Miss Tan Yen Ping, 43, whose father disapproved of her learning art and now runs a graphic design firm.

Mr Yap said YAC has produced more than 50 architects.

"There is no point teaching them to win awards. I need to teach them practical skills," he added.

Madam Toh Li Chuin, 38, a senior associate director at DP Architects, said: "The most memorable were the life lessons he taught us. Even our parents went to listen to his stories." the new paper



On a typical summer’s day in Sydney Alesandro Ljubicic is multitasking to get the proverbial shit done. He’s a modern day artist and businessman who assures us that he’s nowhere near slicing off an ear just yet.

“I probably use twelve litres of paint in each painting. The fumes are pretty heavy but I work in evenings where the studio window’s open. Monika doesn’t walk in. Period. It’s my man cave,” he laughs.

Painting striking artworks that evoke positive emotions is Ljubicic’s craft and ‘Monika’ is Monika Radulovic – his fiancée who also happens to be the former Miss Universe of Australia.

We recently sat down with him to talk about all things that men want to know: How he left a potential career in pro basketball to paint, how he turned a creative outlet into a profitable business and more importantly, the secret dating moves he pulled to capture the attention of a future Miss Universe.

This is art school but not as you know it.

“The difference between a successful artist and another is simply the exposure.”

Scroll through recent social pages and you might come across a tuxedo-clad Ljubicic in trademark specs beaming alongside his equally radiant partner in crime. Watch launches, fashion shows, the races and the odd dog wedding, you name it and the pair have likely dropped in together.

Distinguishing today’s reality from a less glamorous past has never been an issue of conversation for Ljubicic though.

Like most migrant families who arrived in Australia in the past decades, Ljubicic and his family fled a war-torn Bosnia during the early 90s in search of salvation.

“For me honestly, back then when we lived there, we had everything,” he recalls.

In Bosnia his family had accumulated enough wealth over the generations to become “comfortable”. Once the war happened, the family uprooted and left most of their wealth behind, taking their only son with them to Australia in 1993. This was their new home; a place in which they couldn’t speak the language and rebuilding a life meant starting from scratch.

Thankfully it didn’t take much for a young Ljubicic to realise his talents. It was grade two and he had completed one of his first ever paintings. The Harbour Bridge along with the water and the Opera House. His teacher was so impressed that she sent him to the principal’s office to retrieve a sticker. That was the only time he’d visit the principal’s office on a good note.

“In primary school I took Power Rangers too seriously. At one stage I was banned from excursions for getting in too many fights,” he says.

Nonetheless the popular show probably aided in understanding primary colours a bit more and by the time he was in high school, a calmer and more disciplined Alessandro Ljubicic had come to fruition. This was a young man primed as a future basketball star with NBA dreams.

Ljubicic began taking the sport seriously and carried that same training mentality into his studies. He was always two weeks ahead of schedule so that he’d have enough time to balance training with pass grades whilst his father worked as a pastry chef and his mother worked in a factory.

“Being the only child I’m lucky because my parents went out of their way to make sure I had the best so that I wouldn’t see the negative side of things,” he says.

“When I was accepted to go to the Sydney Academy of Sport for basketball, we didn’t have the money to send me, so dad would sell one of his prized keyboards to pay my fees. It didn’t happen once, it happened several times.”

“After selling it he’d save to buy a new one and if I needed to go somewhere else for basketball, he’d sell it again. It was like that.”

His promising stint in basketball would however come to an abrupt halt after an injury kept him off the court for six months. Amidst the frustration, one of his teachers at the time saw this as a blessing in disguise.

“Laurie Dagwell. I only know her first name because we’re now Instagram friends – she said at the time, ‘You’re not going to be a sportsman, you’re going to be an artist.’ And I thought ‘Fuck, what would you know?'”

More than he would ever imagine it seemed. During his injury period Ljubicic began taking his creativity a bit more seriously.

“I remember doing assessments in Year 12 during school holidays where I’d start painting at 9am in the morning and wouldn’t eat anything until I stopped at 8pm.”

“You don’t realise because you’re just so immersed in it. It’s one of those self-fulfilling things money can’t buy.”

Creating things with his hands soon became an obsession so when it came time to laying the pathway to his future,the choice was easy – art.

“My parents said do what you love. I didn’t look towards the future in terms of how I was going to make money or how I was going to support the family. It was more what I enjoyed doing and things kind of fell in place.”

“They’ve always said that if you’re going to fail, you might as well fail doing something you love rather than doing something you hate. But then again, how can you fail doing something you love?”

Luckily Ljubicic didn’t fail. In fact he was accepted into the National Art School, a move which his parents supported whilst drawing disdain from others.

They’d say: “What the hell are you doing with your kid? Allowing him to go to the National Art School. What the hell is he going to do?”

His parents knew that he was going to make it though. They spotted it early on through his dedication towards playing basketball and they knew he’d be fine no matter what he chose.

Attending the National Art School doesn’t afford you many free meals as a 21-year-old student living in western Sydney. Thankfully a young Ljubicic knew how to hustle and quickly found a way to open his own art store at a time when most boys pushing buttons on their Playstation.

“So what happened was I received a scholarship. It was $3,000 cash. I thought I was the richest guy in the world and I was going to go out for lunch and get extra beef and everything,” he laughs.

Then he realised that he was burning through his art supplies faster than he was receiving scholarship checks. The wise words of his parents words once again resonated: If you want success with anything, you have to use the best.

Ljubicic began working retail every weekend and holiday for money that would pay for his art material. It still wasn’t enough to cover his expenses though so he hatched an even grander plan.

In a matter of days he had a website, a PayPal account and an “art store” which was deceivingly bigger in name than what it was in mortar.

The Sydney Art Store was born – a one metre wide stand sitting in Ljubicic’s Bankstown bedroom which held $3,000 worth of coloured paint bought from the supplier he was initially using. This was the beginning of his art empire.

With word quickly spreading to fellow students at the school, Ljubicic soon received the go ahead from teachers to start selling his art supplies in his own makeshift stall space every Wednesday.

“We’d get the table out and I became the new supplier for the school. We’d undercut everyone because I had no overheads.”

Art in practice can be a convoluted industry at the best of times. Reaching the status of a professional artist often involves years of discovering one’s own style before embarking on the hard sell. Ljubicic knew this early on so he bought himself some time by opening a real art store to help fund his passion for painting.

Within a week and without hesitation from his parents, the family home was on the market ready to fund their son’s next big dream. It was an unprecedented risk.

“Mum said let’s just do it and give it a go. If it doesn’t work, we’ll start all over.”

Ten years later and his business is now recognised as one of the largest in Australia.

Given his brazen approach to business which has consistently worked in his favour (some of his paintings can retail for up to $24,000 today), we had to ask for his best advice on turning art into a paying job.

“Every artist is some sort of businessman. Every artist has an ABN. They’re a walking business. The difference between a successful artist and another is simply the exposure,” he says.

“I always say, you can’t sell a secret.”

“They have to be savvy in a way cause they’re selling a luxury product. No one needs a painting on their wall. It’s not food or water. You need to create something beautiful and you need get it out there. Its a lot easier now with Instagram but be comfortable in what you’ve painted. It’s supposed to represent who you are.”

Ljubicic’s own work is a prime example of this. Often lathered in thick coats of expensive oil paints, his work has garnered attention for focusing primarily on colours that speak to people. These colours have been manifested into grand floral pieces which is today the signature of his work or as he likes to put it, “a universal subject which speaks to everyone”.

“I’m sure if I was painting dead birds and roadkill, my paintings wouldn’t sell as well.” D'MARGE


Artists Earn Their “Lunch Money”

On a plank of wood that almost looks soft, there’s a discarded quill, bent like a fern. Ink still wet and velvety at the tip. Beside it, the inkwell. Its mouth beckons, shallow cap flung open while the well of black liquid suggests there’s more inside. Beside them, a letter opener, and a sense that the table could go on forever.

It comes with a note. If you want to take it home and keep looking, you can — and not for the small fortune usually associated with buying art.

The work — artist Mike Angelis’s Captain’s Desk — is part of a new initiative called “Lunch Money Print” that seeks to teach young people about collecting and to connect local artists and their viewers in the process. In monthly or tri-monthly subscriptions, subscribers can try out different levels of collecting — all introductory — then watch tutorials about how the work was conceived and made.

At an official launch party Saturday afternoon at Westville’s Studio Feruvius, founder Chris O’Flaherty explained that “Lunch Money Print” began with him struggling to earn lunch money himself. After graduating from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in 2014, he noticed two things. First, it was really hard to be a printmaker and painter when rent was due, groceries needed to be bought, the car maintained. He had almost no time to practice his craft. Gigs as a full-time house painter and part-time event contractor left him exhausted, and barely making enough to get by.

Second, he noticed that friends outside of the art world seemed intimidated by the idea of viewing and collecting art. They assumed that it meant waiting for a fat tax refund, or borrowing hundreds of dollars that they wouldn’t be able to pay back. For them, he realized, there was no difference between buying a one-of-a-kind oil painting and a limited-run woodcut print. They both seemed prohibitively out of reach.

He began to wonder if bridging the two worlds was the key to sustaining his career. Printmaking, to him, was the perfect medium to do so — prints are made in multiples, which means that they have wider channels of distribution than paintings, and are usually less expensive as a result. The processes by which they are made — carved or etched on a block or copper plate, and then inked and pressed — thrilled him. If he could teach his friends about appreciating prints, he thought, maybe he could earn just enough “lunch money” to be okay as an artist.

“Artists aren’t looking for a lot of money — they’re just looking for enough to make it sustainable,” he said. “They’re getting little bits to keep them going.” And “there are so many serious artists out there who are just waiting to be discovered,” he added.

So he got together a dedicated group of artists, friends from his time at Lyme Academy, visits to Connecticut studios, and an apprenticeship with lithographer James Reed.

Saturday, the artists began to spring from from the woodwork. Standing at one end of the room beside her work Abuelo, printmaker Adriana Prado recalled how difficult it had been to find work after graduating. When she found a job at an art materials store in New York City, she jumped into it eagerly — but had to move back in with her parents in the city.

“My first thought was: How am I going to survive as an artist?” she said. “I feel fortunate to have found work. But I don’t have that much time to be working on my art. So my hope through this is exposure — being able to reach more people with what I’m making.”

Photographer Kevin Corrado agreed, noting that his work Neither Here Nor There could give viewers a sense of layered imagery and multiple exposures. In the photograph, a figure looks out on a city street, the criss-cross of telephone wires barely visible above his head. The sky is washed out; there’s no horizon line. Except there is, inside the figure, where sea, sky, and sinking sun meet each other within the outline of a person.

Pondering over it, artist Daniel Eugene — who has not yet put his work into the “Lunch Money Print” rotation, but opened his apartment and exhibition space for the show — explained that he thought this was the power of the series: works that made viewers look twice, and start thinking about the image as something they might want to hang onto.

“This is about the relationship between artist, artwork, and space,” he said. “It’s encouraging regional artists to build a reputation in the community. Their images, I think, facilitate a tradition of human consciousness.” New Haven Independent

From his boyhood in Texas to now, artist continues to make a statement with jaw-dropping murals

You have to go all the way back to Johnston Middle School in Houston to track the beginning of Nathan Green's rapidly advancing career. He painted a mural at Johnston, but that was nothing compared to the sprawling example he painted at Westbury High School that covered the wall near the entrance to the campus.

"It was based on the school transitioning into the future," Green says by phone from New York City, where he now makes his home. "The visual that took you through the whole thing was like a train, from old steam locomotives to commuter trains to futuristic trains."

He was only a teenager, but his creation still adorns the entrance to Westbury, where, when he wasn't painting murals, he was busy skateboarding and being a happy-go-lucky man-child.

Now 36, this native of the Bayou City has remained committed to painting striking, vivid murals. He has elevated his reputation as muralist par excellence by painting a giant one at Light Farms, a master-planned community in Celina, 41 miles due north of downtown Dallas.

And he painted one for a waterfront home near Cedar Creek Lake that was so good, so profound in the elegance of its design, that it drew the attention of the Light Farms folks, who couldn't wait to hire him.

Green is no stranger to the Dallas art community, having served as an artist-in-residence at CentralTrak. He later worked at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Now represented by the Barry Whistler Gallery, he is about to be part of a group exhibition at the venue's new home in the Dallas Design District.

"He's an energetic, smart young guy who's got a can-do attitude," says Whistler, who's thrilled to have Green be a major player in "Power Lines," the exhibition he plans for the gallery's new home in mid-May.

Though it became clear during his Bayou boyhood that Green was destined to be an artist, he sharpened his focus at the University of Texas at Austin.

That led to his helping oversee the Camp Fig Gallery in downtown Austin that specialized in contemporary art created by "very young people."
"It's where I found myself," Green says.

After graduating from UT, he worked at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin before he and a group of friends opened a gallery called Okay Mountain, which was committed to showing "exciting stuff."

In 2008, Green fell in love with the woman who is now his wife. She had worked at the coffee shop near Okay Mountain. Barista Romance.

So, in 2013, he followed Meg Glausser to Dallas, en route to her obtaining a doctoral degree at UT Southwestern, before she pursued her calling as a family physician. That introduced him to the Dallas art world, where he quickly made a name for himself.

The majority of what he creates, he says, are paintings "that kind of branch into sculpture. I've always been drawn to the visual language of modern abstraction. I want to build abstraction but use my hands to do it. I like to take it off the canvas and expand it into three dimensions."

At times, he says, his work can resemble a mixture of "Home Depot, Hobby Lobby and art history. What I mean by that is, I like the notion of the construction world meeting the craft world meeting the visual language of abstraction."

The Light Farms project underscores Green's definition of what he most likes to create. What he produced in the once-rural surroundings of Celina was a bright, geometric mural, inspired by shapes and colors he saw within the community. The Republic Property Group that commissioned his services hoped to introduce original art to its community that managed to blend in with the existing infrastructure of its surroundings.

So, Green painted his mural on a large storage shed at Light Farms, using corrugated steel sheets as his canvas, one that integrated the angular nature of the timber beams imported from upstate New York that make up the information and fitness centers at the complex.

For Green, it's all part of his own master plan.

"If I had to say I have a goal, it would be to re-examine the history of painting and add to the language of abstraction, to form a new painterly vocabulary."
He is also adept at making connections. A visitor to his Dallas studio commissioned him to paint a mural in his house. He then created a massive mural at the Cedar Creek Lake home of Dallas real estate agent Sam Saladino and Ken Downing, the globe-trotting fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus.

Saladino first discovered Green's work in 2012, after which the two became friends. Saladino saw an Instagram post of Green's earlier this year of a site-specific installation in Oregon. That led to a visit to the house at Cedar Creek Lake, where Green absorbed the house and its collections, made sketches and took measurements and photographs "for design inspiration."

The colors of the finished work, Green says, "were sourced from all around the interior, and the design referenced a few textile patterns I honed in on during my visit." The installation took seven days to execute. Green and two assistants worked virtually around the clock and "drank 1,000 cups of coffee."

Green describes the Saladino-Downing property as "being like a museum." So, he designed a mural that captured the essence of their shared artistic sensibility. He covered the walls, the entryway, the ceiling. He loved the feeling it created, of being enveloped by the mural, which punctuates what he calls a "truly breathtaking" High Modernist lake house. He loved the feeling of immersing himself in high culture, then dining at a catfish place "where people were smoking cigarettes inside."

And yet, there's a deeper reason for his longing to do murals, at Cedar Creek, Celina or anywhere, for that matter, and you can trace it right back to his days as a boy.

"Mural painting is still one of the things I really love to do," says Green, who fondly remembers his first mural, at his middle school in Houston. "I really try to jump at every opportunity to do one." The Dallas Morning News