• Loddon Herald

From Tarna to New York



IN ONE of the many historic buildings that dot what was once the bustling commercial hub of Tarnagulla, art for the world’s savvy investors is being created.

For the last two months, Phillipe de Kraan has found the space he needs away from the Mornington Peninsula “rat race’ he called home for 20 years.

Phillipe has tucked himself away in the solitude of goldfields history to create works for exhibition and sale in New York where the prize tags will range from $50,000 to potentially more than $500,000.

“The buyers at the big galleries in New York are serious investors. It’s a business for them compared with in Australia where people buy based on the decor of their home,” he said.

“You have to be selected to exhibit at these galleries,” said the artist who has explored his world of expressionism through more than 400 works so far. One work now ready to hang in New York measures 1.5 metres by 1.4 metres.

“It took nearly five months to paint. It’s a showstopper,” Phillipe said.

He described New York as the epicentre of the art world and says agents with the Sapphire Gallery “are determined to make a name for me there in five years. We’re two years in.

“If they (a gallery) want you, they will promote you,” Phillipe said.

“I let my paintings do the talking. I am telling a story ... everything means something.

“Just looking for a title for one of my works can take or week or even longer.

“Then I set about creating something that is unique, something that’s cutting edge art.”

Phillipe said it took him a year to decide on the move to Tarnagulla. “And then I arrived here in the middle of the night ... it’s giving me that space I need.”

Phillipe has been described as one of the world’s renowned and highly-praised artists.

And gallery promotional material says many regard him as “a flambouyant enigma, a recluse, always letting his unique, perhaps psychedelic character studies speak for themselves”.

Phillipe admitted as much himself when we caught up last week, media interviews are rare for him.

He believes an artist should explore diversity while being distinctive to the viewer.

Phillipe said his expressionist pieces came from an awareness of the sub-conscious mind as well as character studies in everyday life, fusing colour, creativity and curiousity.

His works that have been exhibited at galleries and in solo exhibitions around the world broadly comprise what he calls The Masquerade Collection.

Several works are currently on the easels of his makeshift studio, one given the title Liberty that Philip says is about salvation and “the last chance we have to keep what we have got”.

With paintings in New York ready for the eye of art investors next month, Phillipe is not waiting for that call or email from the gallery agents with news of sales. He says it is more important to be creating works for future exhibitions.

“I’ve got my routine of certain hours working, eating, sleeping watching TV. Most of the work is in the evening and night when it’s quiet.”

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