Artists ape their own style

By JOSEPH TERNOWETSKY

HE IS a little-known eccentric Rockhampton artist, and has been known to eat his brushes, tear up his work and throw temper tantrums.

And conducting an interview with the 30-year-old painter is simply impossible.

But Octavius's work may soon be in high demand, even though he is chimpanzee living at the Rockhampton Zoo.

Yes, after another chimpanzee's "paintings'' sold at a London auction for a total of $A34,000, zookeepers at the Rockhampton Zoo are considering capitalising on some of Octavius's masterpieces.

"We'd like to sell some of his work here or even in Brisbane if we can,'' joked Simon Walton, zoo co-ordinator. "We are planning on showcasing some of his works.''

Octavius has done about 10 paintings and, like Van Gogh, he works fast. He slaps paint on to canvas in a mad, carnal fashion.

"He has to be supervised while he paints,'' Mr Walton said. "He is moody like all great artists.''

The paintings are, to say the least, impressionistic. Yet, of all his paintings, Octavius's painting of Australia must be his best.

It features a slathering of green, orange and black, and nearly resembles the nation? when turned a certain way.

"We asked him to paint the country to test his geography,'' he said. "He left out Tasmania.''

Octavius's half-brother, Cassius, also paints, but Mr Walton said he was not as talented as his brother.

Both the chimpanzees have been painting as part of a research study by the University of Queensland.



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