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Masters of "Real Fakes"

Nathalie's Lifestyle Hotel on Samui Island, the ART PALACE, is an hommage to the world's greatest painters and to all Samui artists who are reproducing famous classics that would really make the old masters proud. In fact, Chaweng is the biggest - and the best - center for copy painting in Thailand...!

"Thai Artists" by Mick Elmore - Excerpts taken from the Magazine "The Greater Samui 2005"

"Pablo Picasso declared that, if he ever saw a good fake of one of his paintings, he'd sign it. If that were true, he'd find plenty to sign in the galleries on Chaweng on Koh Samui. So would Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, Salvador Dali and many others...

On Chaweng the painters will reproduce anybody. Some might consider them rip-off copies, but the painters aren't trying to pass their work off as originals, but only as "original copies". And they take their work seriously. Painting good copies requires much discipline. The challenge is coming as close as possible in form and colour...

There are more than 50 painters working on copies and portraits in the galleries that line the most developed three-kilometre stretch of Chaweng Beach Road. Tourists give the galleries a lot of attention. It's hard to pass up an "original" of andy Warhol's "Marilyn Monroe", for example. The painters say that many people stroll past, first taking a quick curious look before returning for a longer browse. That's when they get really intersted, and the idea of a reproduced classic over their bed or in their living room starts brewing in their mind...

Often customers don't have time to wait for a classic reproduction or a special request - so it's sent by post later. Others send requests via email. Several of the galleries, in fact, now have regular buyers who do everything via the Internet. Paintings based on photos are another popular request, portraits being the most common. They generally sell for 1.800 baht (~ 35 €), so if you have two people in the portrait it's 3.600 baht.

The demand for reproduced classics, however, remains high. Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" is one of the top sellers, so is the work of Dali and especially of Andy Warhol. Roy Liechtenstein is also popular, selling well over the years. But the painters say thst, even if it looks simple, copying them is a real challenge because of all the dots and line measurements, The Liechtenstein copies are a stretch in another way, too, since he worked on silkscreens and the copies are on canvas. Even so, they look really good.

Copies that often only take a couple of days to produce can sell for 3.000 baht (~ 60 €), with 1.000 baht going to the painter and 2.000 baht to the gallery. And for another 100 $ visitors can take home da Vinci's Mona Lisa." (M. Elmore)

So, my dear readers - now you know the story of the Samui painters. I really respect them for what they do as they work very hard and often up to 10 hours a day. Painting good copies is a demanding skill. Many of the artists have studied graphic design or painting at renowned art schools in Bangkok and offer you great value for money.

If you stay at Nathalie's Art Palace for vacation or if you pop in to enjoy a happy hour drink at our sky-lounge or pool bar, then you'll understand my appreciation for perfect reproductions. The hall ways and every room is dedicated to a famous painter, yet at an affordable price. Here you can see, feel and touch the "real fakes" and see how they add the "finishing touch" to a simple room. And if you wish so, you can order a copy directly at my lifestyle residence...

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* This special feature "Koh Samui Artists" has been produced by Nathalie Gütermann for © 2005. All photos have been taken by Nathalie, parts of the text are excerpts of an article written by Mick Elmore for 'The greater Samui 2005". The reproduction of any text, photographs, layout etc. needs the written permission of the Chief Publisher.

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