Restaurateur puts family art on display in eatery

Pierre Levicky and father Andre with three works in the Victoire exhibition
Pierre Levicky and father Andre with three works in the Victoire exhibition
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A restauranteur has created a veritable feast for the eyes in a new exhibition showcasing three generations of his family’s paintings.

Pierre Levicky, best known in the capital for starting the Pierre Victoire restaurant chain, has opened a new exhibition where his own paintings will hang side by side with those of his father Andre and his grandfather Nicolas, who emigrated to France from the Ukraine in the early 1930s.

Andre Levicky, 82, is a celebrated artist in his homeland, having been awarded the 2001 Académie des Arts, Sciences et Lettres (Academy of Sciences and Humanities) gold medal for lifetime achievement in the arts, among hundreds of other commendations. In 1987 one of his paintings was presented to then-French president François Mitterrand.

But Pierre admits he wasn’t always thrilled to have such a famous artist for a father, explaining: “My father taught us all to paint when we were children and was very insistent that we kept at it.

“He forced me to do one painting every year until I was 14 or 15, when I just told him I wasn’t doing it anymore.

“Perhaps that’s why I didn’t really start painting again until I was in my early forties.”

However, the 53-year-old admits other factors may also have been at work.

He said: “I’ve been cooking less over the past few years and I think that is probably the main reason for me picking up the paintbrush again. It’s another way to be creative and artistic – you could say painting has replaced cooking.”

Pierre says there are similarities between the use of bold colours by the three generations of artists, but feels each has his own particular style.

“My grandfather and father both excel in landscapes, while I prefer to paint people. However, I feel that my grandfather and I both painted more from things we saw in our imagination, whereas my father paints things he has seen in real life. It’s funny though, I wish I could paint more like my father does, and he says he wishes he could paint more like me. ”

It’s possible that the families artistic roots go back even further than Nicolas.

Andre Levicky, who flew over to Scotland to attend the launch of the exhibition, said: “I am delighted to see an artistic continuation in the family, hopefully my grandchildren will also follow suit.

“There was a famous painter under Catherine the Great in the 18th century whose name was our then unchanged name of Levitzky, although my dad – Pierre’s granddad – did tell me that he bore no relation with us, but who knows?”

The exhibition, which is being held at the Whitespace Gallery in Gayfield Square until Thursday, was organised by Pierre and Sandy Knox, director of the Kinblethmont Gallery near Arbroath.

Sandy told the Evening News: “Pierre and I have been friends for a number of 
years and I had seen some paintings of his hung in his restaurants.

“When I discovered both his father and grandfather also painted we thought getting the three generations together in one exhibition would be a wonderful – and quite unique – idea.”

To the Victoire, the spoils?

Pierre Levicky was born in Lyon, France, arrived in the capital about 30 years ago and began working in restaurants around the city.

After spotting the potential for a restaurant in Victoria Street, he opened the first Pierre Victoire, which offered “gutsy French food at great prices”. The restaurant expanded into a chain of 147 eateries, before going into receivership in 1998.

The chef spent a decade in Paris before returning in 2008. Pierre Victoire was soon reopened, on Eyre Place, followed by Chez Jules on Hanover Street and Chez Jules Fish in Cockburn Street, which opened in 2010. In 2011 he was cleared of giving diners at Pierre Victoire food poisoning after a sheriff ruled his interview by an environmental health officer was inadmissible.

Chez Jules Fish closed in 2011 and last May Levicky was fined £1500 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for failing to deal with noise complaints about an extractor fan at Pierre Victoire