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Actually, the ‘Van Gogh’ is by the painter and retired art historian John A. Walker. It is based on a Van Gogh drawing dated 1888 that now belongs to the British Museum. Walker denies his painting is a copy or forgery:
It is a creative response or homage to a superb pen and ink drawing of a landscape by Vincent. Rather than useone of my own drawings as a starting point, I employed one of Vincent’s that he never turned into a painting. I have had to invent or imagine the colouration.’
He cites the earlier use Francis Bacon made of Van Gogh’s self-portrait on the road to Tarascon as a precedent for such an interpretation. As an art historian, Walker published a detailed analysis of the drawing which he claims ‘is exceptional in that it was highly finished and one of a series of six that Vincent hoped his brother Theo in Paris would be able to sell.’ The drawings depicted views of an ancient abbey and of the La Crau, a plain near Arles in Provence, as seen from a rocky outcrop known as Montmajour.
Walker claims that it is only by using the drawing in this way that one really examines it and appreciates its incredible detail. He has since completed a further five paintings based on other drawings which are to be exhibited alongside reproductions of Vincent’s drawings at the Robert Phillips Gallery, Walton-on-Thames
‘After Vincent’ runs from 4 to 15 September 2013.
Gallery hours 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and 2.30 p.m.–4.30 p.m. on Sundays.
Robert Phillips Gallery
For more on John A. Walker’s work, see ‘Ten paintings with comments: The art of John A. Walker’ in Cassone, September 2011