Two paintings in John Myatt’s new exhibition neatly bookend the tale of his chequered history as an artist. The first is a depiction of the view from E Wing of Brixton Prison. The second, in the comic-book style of Roy Lichtenstein, depicts a couple discussing a painting. It is entitled Genuine Fake.
Circumstances mean everything. Being in one place versus another at a particular time can greatly alter the outcome of a lifetime. Convicted art forger John Myatt experienced this first hand, explaining that had he been where he is now in his life, he never would have committed the art crimes. Twenty years after first embarking on a prolific criminal career in art fraud, Myatt is coming full circle by being offered an exhibition as a genuine artist in Castle Fine Art Galleries.
John Myatt twenty years ago embodied the old “starving artist” stereotype. Selling “genuine fakes” he could hardly make a living, never knowing if he’d be able to put food on the table for his family or keep the roof above their heads. So when his partner in crime sold one of his pieces as an original for twenty times the amount he had been getting, Myatt saw it as his golden ticket, not his prison sentence. John Myatt served a 12 month prison sentence that has since sky-rocketed his career. He created portraits for inmates throughout his sentence as well as a piece available for viewing at Myatt’s new exhibition, entitled “Pigeon and Apple View from E Wing”. Myatt told The Independent “now I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that, were it not for having been part of this crime, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today”.
Fake by John Myatt is at Castle Fine Art, Mayfair, until August 10. castlegalleries.com