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Artwork on your walls - for fish enthusiasts only !

by George J. Reclos

Four years ago, while I was discussing with Francesco the possibility of getting some Madagascan cichlids (which seemed really unlikely then) he sent me a poster with paintings of the most known cichlids from that part of the world. I was really surprised by the beauty of the work and I noticed that the artist was Dave Tourle. His name appeared in a number of articles along with Sonia Guinane's and there was always a nice photo or a fantastic painting in them. Little did I know then that one day I would transform my home (and the homes of Thanassis and Nikos) into an art gallery with his works. First things first... A year later, during our visit to Faenza, where we actually got our first Madagascan cichlids thanks to Patrick de Rham, Francesco donated this poster to me, making me a really happy man. This poster (shown below) soon became our reference guide during our discussions about Madagascans and we would always unroll it from its special protection cylinder to admire the colors and shapes of those unique fishes.

A couple of years later, we had developed a very nice relationship with Sonia and Dave and were about to meet each other in Vichy, France, for the first time. I know it may sound a bit impolite, but I found the courage to ask Dave if he could bring me one copy of his Paretroplus damii painting for my home. At that time I was sure that P. damii would be the first Paretropline to be bred in my tanks so the artwork would match the situation perfectly well. As you can see below, Dave was really generous bringing not one but two copies, which were placed in my home office and over the P. maculatus tank.

Many people who visited our home admired them, which assured me that I had grown a good taste for art. Just before our next meeting (in Vichy again), Sonia made a huge mistake when she asked me if I wanted something from them. Yes, you guessed it, this time I asked for an original painting of Paretroplus maculatus and my British friends were simply too well mannered to refuse. So, again, I was a really happy camper with an original drawing of P. maculatus - a really fantastic piece of work - and two color copies. When I gave the painting for framing, the gallery owner asked me if I could paint a couple of fish for her. I told her that I was not the artist but I happened to know him personally (yes, Dave, I said that, with the style of a big art connoisseur). She told me if there was a price for them .. which gave me an excellent idea. You see, despite my will to get as many of Dave's original paintings as quickly as possible, I had some traces of good manners left, which did not allow me to ask him directly. After all, I knew that each painting takes many hours to be completed, which made me hesitate even more. But, what if a price was set ? Then he could not refuse, or could he? Anyway, I decided to ask him. At first he did not seem very enthusiastic, but in the end we agreed that this would be beneficial for both parties. It was good for me, since I would get all my original paintings faster and for him since he would be able to cover his costs, and have a (very small) income for his labor. Following that, I sent a message to Thanassis, another Mad cichlid lover (fanatic?), who was faster than I was. He sent me a request for four more paintings. I had also asked for another five.. which makes nine in all, correct? Then came Nikos asking for one more (his famous Paratilapia sp. "Andapa") and we still have the gallerist.. and.. who knows?

In this picture above you see the framed P. maculatus painting. You have to admit it is a first class work, looking even better when placed over a tank with the real fish swimming in it (photo below).

All I can say is that Dave was nicely surprised by the reception of his paintings. I had already told him that, instead of paying to buy a mediocre reproduction of whatever, it is much wiser to give that money and buy an original painting which had the additional advantage of showing something I love. Moreover, it was an artwork by someone I knew and was dedicated to me. What else could I ask for? He rushed to buy some paint and brushes and he has already started working on them. I really cannot wait to see those paintings on my walls. Sonia told me that his paintings of the Paratilapia sp. "Andapa" are fantastic, which makes me really anxious to see them. You see, Sonia has seen every piece of art produced by Dave, so the word "fantastic" should mean .. fantastic ! For the time being all I can do is dream of them. As you can see in the pictures below, the kind of detail and color accuracy in Dave's paintings, is really breathtaking.

Paretroplus maculatus (not as good as mine !!)

Paretroplus tsimoly (Lamena blue lips)

Ptychochromis sp. mangarahara (I have ordered one of them, too !)

Just when he was painting the last of the three Paratilapia sp. "Andapa", I asked him if he would have any objections about an article being published on MCH about his work. This was a bit more difficult, I could feel it from the beginning. There was a long silence, which almost sounded as a "Yes, many". I sent him a second message with a list of very good reasons to accept this proposal. After all, this could be a way to give a chance to many hobbyists keeping these fishes to ask for their own original painting. In the end he said that "perhaps I was right" and gave me the permission. So, here we are. Me, Dave, the paintings and you. Now, it is your call. If you want to get an original painting, at a cost of just 45 Euros, plus postage and packing, of your fish (or any cichlid species or other fish you like, but do not keep - yet!) you can contact Dave directly at dave.tourle@ntlworld.com

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