Posted by: Joseph Dixon | August 5, 2013

Comments on the Art Forger Subplot

One of the subplots in “Search for the Garden” involves a talented art forger who cannot sell his own art and is forced to go back to painting forgeries of famous artworks.  This artist-copyist is so good at painting forgeries that it is difficult to tell the difference between the original authentic paintings and his forgeries.  One question the novel asks is what make the original artwork so iconic?  Just the thought that a “masterpiece” is a forgery is enough to haunt Ali, the owner of “Garden and Terrace.”  In fact, in the novel Ali says, “I couldn’t live with the painting knowing it wasn’t real.  I would rather pour lighting fluid on it and burn it than have a forgery hanging in my home.”

Well it is quite remarkable that on July 21, 2013 there was an article in the Guardian by Stuart Jeffries on the painter Susie Ray, who for the last 25 years ( has copied famous well-known paintings for clients who are often “celebrities, politicians, and millionaires.”  Her most expensive copies (such as one of a painting by Monet) can cost as much as 9000 pounds.  One of her famous clients passes off Susie Ray’s Monet painting as an original.  In the article Ray was quoted as saying, “A lot of famous people pass off my copies as original,” she says. “That’s up to them.”  She signs her name on the back of each painting in order to document that the paintings are not originals.

In the article Susie Ray also mentioned that some of her clients have said that they wish to have a copy of their original painting so that they can store the original in a vault and enjoy the copy of the work “while the original is safely locked away.”   This reasoning is actually contrary to that of Ali’s in “The Artist’s Secret,” as Ali cannot bear knowing his painting is a forgery.

Stuart Jeffries asked Ms. Ray whether she felt “creatively thwarted?”  She answered, “I’ve tried my own paintings but they’re no good. I’m very critical of everything I do. I’m an illustrator not a fine artist.”

Go to her website to see Susie Ray’s “portfolio.”  It is remarkable!


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