14 January 2014

The Art of the Sail

As many involved in the superyacht brokerage and charter industry appreciate, yachting is not a one dimensional aspect of one’s life; it often spills over into various parts of day-today living. Your world on board does not stop upon stepping back on dry land, but becomes part of who you are. Nowhere is this more apparent than through Niklas Amundson’s artwork. From his various maritime-inspired oil paintings done on sail canvas collected from old sailing ships, to the collaborations with the Volvo Ocean Race, it is hard to imagine a better relationship between the art world and the yacht industry.
Amundson was born in 1967 on the Swedish east coast close to Stockholm and soon moved west to the beautiful island of Marstrand. He began painting at an early age and was soon immersed in life on the water. Whether it was on the 38.4-metre sailing yacht Gloria or through the Swedish Coast Guard, you could be sure to find the artist close to the water. Although a painter at heart, Amundson broke into the world of maritime art upon furnishing his first apartment. A lover of the sea, he wanted to decorate his new living space with images of the sea and the yachting world. However, coming up short of options, he took the brush in his own hands and created the pieces he was looking for.

Amundson’s work has flourished ever since. He was the official artist for the Ship Götheborg’s maiden voyage from Sweden to China and back, in 2005. He also made the official artwork for the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 as well as 2008-2009, and is the official artist for Virgin Oceanic. When asked if he ever imagined his work would reach the high level that it has, the ever-modest Amundson puts it down to meeting the right people along the way. “The world of marine art is not very big, so you become closely involved with people who like this type of art.” he explains. In the case of the Polar Expedition Commission, [done for the 100th anniversary] I was asked by a good friend of Prince Albert of Monaco to complete the work as a present from the team.” Similarly, it was through his work on the Volvo-sponsored Ship Götheborg that led to his work with the Volvo Ocean Race. It is not simply a case of referrals that aids the expansion of Amundson’s work. You need only to look at the quality paintings he produces to appreciate its beauty. Inspired by his worldwide travelling at sea, one of Amundson’s truly unique collections at the moment is his Gallery of Flags, in which he intricately paints national flags on to old sails and then handwrites the national anthem in the background. Such creations are a beautiful way to extend your experience aboard your own superyacht, to your home or office. Although Amundson has expanded his collection to include portraits, he enjoys alternating between the two. Completion of each piece can take an average of two to three months for the smaller paintings and four to five months for the larger pieces, therefore he will often have two that he is working on at a time. This allows time for the oil paint to dry so that he can add up to 10 layers of paint on to each piece. Of course, for superyacht owners the marine art will be of interest. However, Amundson is open to new and exciting projects. Should you wish to commission him, he is happy to be a part of those projects closest to you. The future is certainly bright for Amundson, who admits: “One of the proud moments in my art career came last autumn when I was commissioned by the Yacht Club de Monaco to create a large portrait of HSH Princess Charlene. I painted the portrait during the long winter season on the island of Marstrand using oil on old linen sails from a cutter in the 1940s, which sunk in the English Channel.” Although an accomplished painter for more than 20 years, Amundson was nervous when he presented the portrait to HSH Princess Charlene. “It was a moment of relief when I saw her pleasant reaction to the painting,” he reveals. When asked if he has any favourites, the answer was simple. “I love them all.” Of course, following his passions of travel, the water and art it is easy to see where he draws his inspiration. Visit the website www.niklasamundson .com Article written by Rebecca Taylor, first published in the Fraser Yachting Magazine