Best known for his bold and dynamic use of colour, the self-taught Tretchikoff (1913–2006) was the first artist to make reproductive prints of his art, particularly using the method of lithography. It is no wonder that the art world is somewhat divided about their stance on the man.No starving artist, he enjoyed much commercial success in the 1950s and 60s. His subject-matter ranges from figures and portraits to still lifes and animals. Tretchikoff drew inspiration from his life in the East and South Africa. The 1950 Chinese Girl painting is a prime example, as it features a Eurasian model with blue-green skin. Another well-known Tretchikoff piece is the Zulu Maiden, which was sold for $10,000 in 1999 at an auction.
Much of Tretchikoff’s life reads like an epic adventure novel. Of Russian decent, his family fled the country in 1917 and settled in Harbin, a Chinese part of Manchuria. There he worked as a scene painter at a Russian opera house and later as an art director and illustrator. It was in China that he met and married his wife, Natalie.With the emergence of the Second World War, Tretchikoff was onboard a ship heading for South Africa, which was bombed by the Japanese. In 1946, after being held in a Japanese camp, Tretchikoff finally stepped ashore in South Africa, where he was reunited with his wife and daughter.Tretchikoff resided in Cape Town until his death in 2006. His family then established the Tretchikoff Trust as a way to keep his legacy alive. The trust has been used to fund various creative art projects over the years. Before his death, Tretchikoff approved the use of his prints in various decorative homeware pieces, giving lovers of his art the chance to share in the memory and inspiration of who he was.
Written by Dorothea Solomon and Taryn Whittles for 5Rooms
Images courtesy of: http://goo.gl/6nNfG5, http://www.vladimirtretchikoff.com/