The New York gallery owner who discovered the artist hiding beneath Hunter Biden’s troubled and controversial exterior admitted he was skeptical before their first meeting almost three years ago.
“A lot of people say they can paint and sculpt, but what worried me was whether Hunter’s work would be authentic,” said Georges Berges, who owns eponymous galleries in SoHo and in Berlin.
He told the Post that he was introduced to Biden by a “serious” Los Angeles-based collector who was impressed by the work of the president’s scandalous son.
“What interested me was whether the job was going to be honest – something that was really true for him and his background,” said Berges. “But as soon as I met him, I had a real connection with him and felt I could work with him.”
Berges, 45, was excited about what he saw in Biden’s home studio: ethereal pastels of raindrops and other natural elements, mostly done on Japanese Yupo paper using ink blown through a straw.
Berges, which represents a list of international artists, spent the following years helping Biden, who is self-taught, transform his Abstract Expressionist painting from a hobby that occupied “about 20% of his time” to a full-time job that saw Biden spend the last two and a half years in a hole in his home studio on a hill in Los Angeles following a “regimented” routine.
Today, President Biden’s son is putting the finishing touches on the 15 paintings that will make up his first solo show, which is slated to open in October at the Berges Gallery in SoHo, with a vernissage for VIP collectors in Los Angeles in September.
“Everyone thinks Hunter just landed on the art scene, but it takes years to prepare,” said Berges, who fueled the work during frequent visits to Biden’s studio and daily phone conversations. “I helped him create a daily structure and kept it a secret about who he is, especially while his father ran for president.”
But when the news broke last year that the 51-year-old former lobbyist and lawyer who has been at the center of bomb scandals, including alleged corruption in his trade relations with China and Ukraine, Berges said he was inundated calls from collectors wishing to purchase art.
Prices will vary from $ 75,000 for works on paper to $ 500,000 for larger canvases. Among the works is an abstract self-portrait in silhouette of a Biden clad in sunglasses, incorporating a photograph and a prose poem that is linked to Biden’s recently published drug and sex-fueled memoir, “Beautiful Things.” .
Even if some criticism Fearing that buying high-priced art from Biden could present an ethical challenge and be seen as a way to win President Biden’s favor, Berges dismissed the claims.
As with any purchase of works of art, the anonymity of buyers is guaranteed by the merchant unless they decide to make themselves known to the public. Political observers point out that rules of the art that obscure the identity of buyers could contribute to perceptions of pay to play.
“It has nothing to do with looking for favors with anyone,” Berges said. “I started working with Hunter even before his father decided to run for president. It is a lifelong commitment that will survive his father’s presidency.
Berges declined to discuss the percentage his gallery will take from the sale of each painting. “It’s confidential,” he said.
The first opinions are encouraging. One art expert called Biden’s work “strong enough.” Mark Tribe, chair of the MFA Department of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, told The Post last week that “compelling organic colors and shapes – this is the kind of organic abstraction that I find it pleasing to the eyes and that arouses your curiosity. “
For Berges, Biden’s work has a “redemptive quality” that encompasses many of his own personal struggles – the deaths of his mother and older brother Beau, and his battle with alcohol and drugs. He said he had only known a sober Biden, dedicated to his work of art. The paintings reflect “all that he is, not what he has been characterized to be,” said Berges.
“I always tell him when people ask how long it took to do a particular painting, you tell them 51 years old,” he said. “Your whole life.”