During last week’s SCOPE Miami fair, Virginia-based artist Jason Levesque was browsing the aisles when a group of works in the Robert Fontaine Gallery booth caught his eye: They were paintings by Miami-based artist Josafat Miranda, and they were very clearly based on photographs by Levesque, while others were similarly self-evident copies of photos by his friend and fellow photog Marie Killen. “It’s such blatant disregard for another artist’s talents,” gallerist Robert Fontaine told the Miami New Times’s Riptide blog. “I completely pulled all of his work. I don’t want anything more to do with him.”
Fontaine, who had represented Miranda for about a year prior to last week’s fair, was selling five of his works for roughly $4,000 each. The portrait paintings depicted whimsical portraits of more or less surreal female figures based quite blatantly on similar photos by Levesque and Killen.
Levesque took to Facebook after noticing Miranda’s work at the fair, posting an image of the painter’s works alongside his own and images by Killen. The gallery eventually heard about the controversy, and Miranda even sent Levesque a message explaining that his paintings were intended as an homage.
“A Beatles cover band calls themselves a Beatles cover band,” Levesque told Riptide. “Even if my name had been on there, it still would have been a problem, but he kept the source work a secret.”
“I didn’t steal these images,” Miranda told the blog in his defense. “My only mistake was not giving the original artists credit. I’ve now spoken to them and apologized to them. We came to the agreement that I have to take everything down and destroy it, which is exactly what I’m going to do.”
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image: Miranda’s painting on the left and Levesque’s photograph on the right. Photo via Jason Levesque/Facebook.)