Painting by North East artist sparks row in art world

A PAINTING by an artist from the North East has sparked a bizarre row in the London art world.

Paul Harvey, Biscuit Factory

A PAINTING by an artist from the North East has sparked a bizarre row in the London art world.

A contemporary art show in Mayfair was closed after the painting by Whitley Bay-based artist Paul Harvey sparked a rash of complaints.

The picture showed multi-millionaire advertising mogul Charles Saatchi – a leading patron of the Young British Artists movement and husband of TV chef Nigella Lawson – with a halo made from a cheese wrapper.

Mr Harvey depicted Mr Saatchi alongside some lemons, sheep and Dairylea cheese to make him “look friendly and human.” But after receiving a number of complaints about the painting, gallery manager Vivian Choi decided it was “too controversial for the area.”

Paul, a lecturer in Art and Design at Tyne Metropolitan College, is a leading member of the Stuckist art movement that is often seen as being in opposition to the Young British Artists, which includes luminaries such as Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Paul, who is currently researching a PhD at Northumbria University on Stuckism, said: “I did it to make Saatchi look friendly and human.

“It’s a ludicrous decision because it’s not even a controversial painting. It’s a mild and positive painting.

“I just don’t see where the controversial aspect is in the whole thing. It’s not like Myra Hindley with some little kid on her lap. It’s just Dairylea cheese and a sheep and some lemons, because he likes lemonade.”

paul harvey, charles saatchi

Supporters of Paul and his fellow artists e-mailed the gallery to protest in a campaign orchestrated through the exhibition's Facebook page and the painting was reinstated.

A spokesperson for Stuckism International last night said: “We are pleased to announce that disagreement with the gallery over the staging of the show Stuckist Clowns Doing Their Dirty Work has now been resolved and the show will be running until Friday September 4. The gallery has agreed to display Paul Harvey’s painting of Charles Saatchi in the window.”

The Stuckists are an international art movement of over 200 groups in 48 countries. They aim to promote figurative painting and believe in “uncensored expression”.

In 2003, the group reported Charles Saatchi to the UK Office of Fair Trading, complaining that he had an effective monopoly on art. The complaint was not upheld.

In 2004, outside the launch of The Triumph of Painting at the Saatchi Gallery, the Stuckists wore tall hats with Charles Saatchi's face on and carried placards claiming that Mr Saatchi had copied their ideas.

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