Artoceanien.com launched three years ago, and is now becoming recognized by art and artcraft lovers across the region. Paintings, drawings, sculptures and rare books from Pacifican artists can be bought in a few clicks, to the delight of its creator, Michel Cunéo. He created this whole scheme just to be able to see the hidden private collections in Tahiti.
When Michel Cunéo lost his job in Tahiti, he came up with the idea of a website for art lovers. “As a child, I have always been interested in Oceanian arts and particularly Polynesiancrafts. I‘m fond of paintings and sculptures and of the materials that are used. Since I cannot afford to buy art, I somehow arranged to get close to some beautiful pieces and allow others to do alike“ explains Michel. In August 2014, he created “Artoceanien.com“, a French-language website dedicated to selling art and artifacts from private collectors in the area.
Artoceanien is a market place for collectors, buyers and sellers. Most come from French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Hawaii or France. “No website of this kind existed in Polynesia before. Art collectors find it convenient to keep their
belongings in their homes, while being able to easily show these pieces to buyers on request” the founder explains.
A treasure trove
Art lovers will find a treasure trove there. Rare paintings by artist Peter Heyman (ten years of his work were destroyed in the 1969 burning of the Fare Tony’s Matamua art gallery in Tahiti), Jean Masson or Adriaan Herman Gouwe for example. “The Polynesian art market has its specificity. François Ravello or Jean Masson are in demand and well valued by locals“ adds Michel Cunéo.
The website is now becoming a reference, to the great joy of its sole editor and manager: “In July, an array of Polynesian paintings was made available for purchase, and in August we highlighted a collection by artist Serge Grès. Visitors to the site will also find Tahitian and Marquesan craftwork by Hiro Ou Wen, prints from Jacques Boullaire or Paul Gauguin, as well as manuscripts and rare books like the 1785 first original French edition of “Les trois Voyages Autour du Monde du Capitaine James Cook – 1774, 1778 et 1785” or a 1792 original edition of “Voyage à la Mer du Sud“ by the Lieutenant G. Bligh. Come visit, and enjoy these collections as much as I do!“
New: the Grès collection
This collection of 33 paintings witnesses Serge Grès’ 40 years stay in Polynesia. This distinguished artist was well known at that time and combined, according to Patrick O’Reilly, “des qualités de lumière étonnante à une grande puissance d’observation” that is to say he combined the best quality of light with capacity for observation.
Both a painter and a sculptor, Serge Grès, whose birth name is Serge Czerefkow, was born in Kiev and studied at the School of Fine Arts of Kiev. In 1924, he left Kiev and moved to Paris where he exhibited at the “Salon d’Automne” and in several galleries. Then he adopted the pseudonym of Grès. So did his wife who became Madame Grès and made a name in “Haute couture”. In 1932, Serge left Paris for Tahiti where he remained until his death. Serge Grès exhibited his art in Tahiti as well as in Europe and the United States. The artist was inspired by Le Greco’s paintings and created portraits, nudes and landscapes in watercolor, charcoal or oil.