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 William Papas  (1927 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York / United Kingdom      Known for: genre, animal painting, illustrations, cartoons

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
"Wild Horses"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from American Design Ltd.:

William Papas' art earned him his first prize at the age of seven.  Since then, he has won international acclaim with his drawings and watercolors, many of which are included in private and corporate collections throughout the world.

Papas was born in South Africa, the son of Greek immigrants. After studying at the Beckenham School of Art and St. Martin's School of Art in London, he began his career as an artist/reporter for the Cape Times.  Papas next moved to England where he was a political cartoonist for several leading British publications, becoming the "toast of Europe," before he tired of the rat race 10 years later, and moved to Greece where he began painting.  There, Papas found himself attracted to the people and the simple way of life and began illustrating what he saw, portraying his subjects in an exaggerated, semi-abstract style that combines both humor and affection.  He has spent his time since then traveling the world and capturing the characters he encounters on paper.

Papas' latest venture, a book titled Papas'America, is a record of the people he and his wife Tessa met during almost three years of traveling the country.  The result is a collection of 50 hand-colored, dry-point etchings of gamblers and bankers, jazz singers and breakdancers, Indians and hot dog vendors - all done with subtle humor.  The book also includes interviews with many of the subjects and a text written by Tessa, who is also an artist.  "The sketchbook is like an open invitation to people to sit down and talk and share their stories," she explains.

Papas describes his work on Papas' America, which follows a similar book, People of Old Jerusalem, as "a voyage of discovery," a voyage during which he journeyed over more than 100,000 miles of the United States and met hundreds of people who quickly dispelled his initial fear of the country.  "Europeans think that America is riddled with mugging and raping and crime," he says, "and before I started that project, I shared some of those misconceptions."  Papas' works, however, are an affirmation of his fondness for the United States, where he now makes his home.

In addition to his figures, Papas creates large, flowing etchings and watercolors of
animals; in particular, horses - a favorite subject of his, dating back to his childhood.

Papas' style has been called a cross between Leroy Neiman and Norman Rockwell.  His portraits are whimsical, striking, and colorful - somewhat reminiscent of his cartoons, but, he is quick to point out, "I am not a cartoonist anymore; I'm a very serious artist."  Papas is a master of understatement.  A few dark strokes, a smear, a smudge, a faint suggestion, and the subject of the painting suddenly becomes explicitly clear.  Equally as adept with a pen as he is with a paintbrush, Papas is able to capture the spirit of his subjects with a few well-placed lines.

Over the years, Papas' works have been exhibited at many international one-man shows in such cities as London, Geneva, Athens, and Jerusalem.  He also has earned numerous awards, including the United Kingdom's Kate Greenaway Medal for his work in writing and illustrating children's books.

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