It was a full house for the opening of Peter Jamieson Sinclair’s exhibition of Caravaggio based works at HiveArts on Blackpool’s Church Street on 15 June 2022.
Referring to my Caravaggio book (Gilles Lambert), I have to say that these works are close to uncannily like the originals. Mind you, if they were the originals, how would we have covered the insurance bill? The notes visible on the photos often recounted that the originals had been lost and other background information, including what is known about the paintings’ original subjects.
The Art of Forgery explores the techniques used to create high quality copies and forgeries, bringing lost, looted or simply destroyed paintings back into the public eye. The exhibition shows how a convincing copy, created for a minimal cost with very basic materials, can cease to be an Imposter and become a bona fide artwork in itself.
I enjoyed a short second honeymoon with my wife in Malta – where Caravaggio was for a while, him running into trouble with the authorities as usual. Wandering into a typically ornate Maltese church we found a newly restored Caravaggio painting on display – it’s a long time ago, but it must have been the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Despite the gory theme, this was the most beautiful painting I had ever seen, up to that point. As you can tell, the memory has stayed with me ever since and adds to my admiration for Caravaggio.
The painter’s full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610). He pioneered a ground breaking naturalistic style that used colour, light and shadow. It’s possible to describe him as brilliant artist, drunk and murderer, dying still pursued by the forces of authority. Such a man, also described by Gilles Lambert as the ‘notorious bad boy of the Italian Baroque’ and ‘the most important painter of the early Baroque period’, has to be worth a look and in Peter Jamieson Sinclair’s case, taken as inspiration. Curious that Caravaggio doesn’t have a Mutant Ninja Turtle named after him – a dead painter can’t have everything I suppose.
Meet the Artist
Peter became an artist from an early age, drawing the mask of Tutankhamun when he was 7. He hated everything about school apart from art and the photographic dark room with its protective red light, which provided some respite. He got into tattooing around 1996 and also started painting copies of old masters. The Foot and Mouth epidemic closed down many art fairs where Peter’s work was being sold thus tattooing became a main source of income for the next 26 years. He returned to painting in 2016, once more creating versions of old masters.
On the Art of Forgery, Peter says:
“The show is about showing how the art world and its pundits are a bit of a fraud themselves. Critics appear to make or break an artist, but the reality is most of these people are just talking heads. If somebody likes a piece of work then they don’t need a critic telling them how good or bad that piece is. Andy Warhol once said that whilst all the critics are trying to decide whether or not a piece of art is good or bad, the artist is best just making more of it. A lot of the art world is just rich people trying to impress other rich people, or so Douglas Adams once said. This exhibition is ultimately about showing how a convincing copy of a work worth millions can be created for a minimal cost with very basic, in some cases reclaimed, materials.”
Amen to that! I particularly like the recycling ethic.
The pictures show just how striking these images are. The painting technique is flawless. All are recommended to get down to the Hive Urban Farm Shop, Church Street, Blackpool to view this exhibition. Have a snack and pick up some fruit and veg while you’re there. The gig also featured drinks and nibbles provided by the lovely Hive staff; even though I couldn’t eat the meaty nibbles, they still looked lovely.
Of his next project, Peter says:
“The next project for an exhibition is going to be based on something traditional as a subject using the classical approach of Caravaggio but with contemporary models and settings. I was thinking of The Seven Virtues and The Seven Deadly Sins, so it seems that 14 is the magic number.”
Can’t wait for this!
The Art of Forgery runs from Wednesday 15 June to then continues during daytime business hours until Tuesday 26 July.
Mon-Sat 9am – 5pm, Sun 9:30am – 4pm.
All pieces are available for purchase.
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