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Andrew Vicari and his portrait of Picasso (The Photolibrary Wales / Alamy )
'I must have been 12 or 13 years old and my art teacher Margaret Thomas at Neath Grammar School entered me for the National Eisteddfod of Wales – I ended up winning the gold medal… I was completely ecstatic… If it wasn’t for that early encouragement I would never have pursued a career in art.’
Britain's highest-paid living artist - and also the official artist of Interpol - was born in Port Talbot in 1938.
An artist whose powerful and colourful work has drawn worldwide recognition.

Andrew's parents were Italian and had moved to South Wales, so although he grew up in Neath he spent many holidays in Italy; “I became very European from an early age,” he said. The opportunity to exhibit at the National Eisteddfod opened doors to a career in art. He studied at Swansea School of Art, and then at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, where he was the youngest student ever to be admitted.

Vicari’s work was first exhibited in 1956, alongside that of Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Mattisse, Degas and Kandinsky. His fame spread and in 1974, he exhibited in Beirut. From there, he was taken to Riyadh where he was to become official painter of Saudi Arabia. Among his commissions was a 60-work series, 'The Triumph of the Bedouin', telling the story of the country from its origins. From his beginnings in South Wales, Vicari went on to work in China, Russia and around the world. He is even the official artist of Interpol!

Although now living in France, he retains strong connections with Wales and is honorary vice president of Neath Male Voice Choir. In 2002 he was the first artist commissioned by the Millennium Stadium. His huge mural in bright colours aimed to rid a dressing room of a supposed curse. It worked, and the room has hosted winners ever since.

Vicari’s popularity in Wales was cemented in the 2004 online poll which voted him one of the '100 Welsh Heroes'.

Where to Visit?

His "Three Welsh Colliers" can be seen at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea.

Vicari's painting of a rising sun, a galloping horse and a soaring phoenix adorns changing rooms at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

His painting "BP Baglan Bay at Night" can be seen at The National Museum Wales.

Dates
Birth: Port Talbot 20 April 1938
Andrew Vicari
Arts, Stage & Screen