Artworx Gallery | Contemporary Art & Gifts | Goolwa SA

Artworx Gallery - currently celebrating its 10th anniversary - is a regular award winner and the finest contemporary art gallery on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula.


That, Which Cannot be Mentioned.

As most people see it, a painting is either a print or an original. We see and feel the brush marks and exclaim - "yep, it's an original!"

Several years ago a gallery in Australia was selling hand-painted copies of Vincent's work. Even though they were very close to the original works of Van Gogh, they were just hand-painted copies, nothing more or less. So, even though they were produced with brushes and paint, did that really make them originals? The answer is clearly no.  There was nothing at all original about them.

Even today you can go online and order a hand-painted copy of a famous painting. It's a business model and painted copies of old masters are available to those who want them. Again, they are all cleverly produced with brush and paint, but there is no originality in them at all. They are just copies of someone else's mastery.

Copying, is a legitimate way of learning how to paint. Unfortunately, some painters never get out of the habit and if it leads to success, then for them it’s justified. Copying the style, the subject matter and the signature use of colour of established artists is becoming wide-spread and some painters are making personal gain by doing it.

Just a few months ago, I witnessed a prize-winning painting that was a clone of a well-known artist, both in style and subject. A few years ago a painter did an exact traced copy painting of an award-winning photo and the painting won first prize. And it’s not an isolated case.  This sort of art should not be considered original nor be eligible for a prize. Somehow it gets the nod from judges even when the appropriation is obvious. These artists don't paint originals but they accept the praise and gain afforded to them from an image which is not theirs and which has been slavishly copied.

Artists who copy seem to be facilitated by social media and online galleries and art publications. Audiences of these platforms are often unaware the work has been appropriated from other artists or other copyrighted sources.

Unfortunately, art magazines can give the most legitimacy to the copyists by showcasing them as outstanding artists and perpetuating the myth that they produce original work when in fact they struggle to find any originality at all.

It has to be said, the copying that goes on in amateur circles mostly doesn't make inroads to the livelihood of professional artists. But in any case it ‘s unethical to claim a piece as your own original work when that isn't true.

Names are rarely named and even the issue itself has become something that cannot be mentioned.

Lord Voldamort would be proud!

Mike Barr

Summer at Rigonis
Oil on board - 60x60cm

The impressions of a sunny day looking from the Grange Jetty toward Henley Beach.  Acrylic on canvas.

The impressions of a sunny day looking from the Grange Jetty toward Henley Beach.

Acrylic on canvas.


Liz and John Francis

12 Hays Street
Goolwa, South Australia

Phone: (08) 8555 0949


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