If you’ve ever been to the office of Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, you may have noticed oh, just a few -- nine at last count -- curiously disturbing, other worldly paintings on the walls. All are by an artist named Gail Potocki.
Kroll was making her way through the packed, costume-crazy floor of the 2009 Comic-Con in San Diego when she discovered the artist. As she was trying to get out of the superhero hordes and monster mobs, she was struck by the Century Guild exhibit of Art Nouveau collectibles and old posters. She became instantly smitten by what looked like an Art Nouveau period painting of a woman who resembled her late mother.
"I thought, 'What on earth is this doing here?,'" Kroll tells The Hollywood Reporter, recalling the time she first encountered Potocki's painting at Comic-Con.
Kroll was introduced to the Symbolist painter Potocki that day, and later met Century Guild founder Thomas Negovan. All three struck up a friendship and Kroll has since become an avid collector of the young artist’s work. Kroll says, "If she emails me to say 'I’ve finished a new paintings. Are you interested?' I would say 'yes, definitely' without even seeing it."
"She has become one of my passions," Kroll says of her Potocki-packed office. "People who come to my office are immediately struck the same thing I was when I first saw it. Her work has a way of getting inside you. People stop by my office just to see her art work."
Some of the artist's work also occupies Kroll and her husband's home, a collection that also includes Art Nouveau, Noir and images of women. "I always want to feel like I have been punched in the stomach and have a strong connection to the art and I feel a responsibility toward Gail. I want to put Gail out there in the world."
It's no surprise then Kroll arranged an exhibition last April for Warner Bros. film, The Great Gatsby, at Culver City's Century Guild that featured the work of Oscar winning costume and set designer Catherine Martin’s sketches, props and costumes for the film. All were on exhibit -- along with Potocki’s Art Nouveau style paintings -- with guests including Kroll, Martin, various studio execs, agents, a slew of industry players, as well as actors Toby Maguire and Thomas Jane.
This weekend, Kroll can be found at another Century Guild event -- Potocki’s first solo exhibit in 5 years, “Fragmented Alice”, featuring the artist’s twisted take on the classic children’s story. The gallery is open Thursday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a closing night bash at precisely 7:10 p.m. Saturday night. The party is open to the public, and the tagline reads, "Don’t be late. It’s a very important date."
Potocki's new paintings sell for $1,800- $24,000. Too rich for your blood? You can also purchase Potocki's new Alice-inspired fragrance, Pursue Rabbit, (vanilla infused sandalwood with notes of wild black tobacco, white tea leaf, white musk, orange blossom, pale incense and opium tar). The oil is limited to 50 bottles and emblazoned with her Cheshire Cat artwork ($26).
Her Fragmented Alice limited edition cosmetic collection is also available at the gallery. The cosmetic line was launched at the 2013 Comic-Con (via Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics) with the colors and names reflecting the painter's strange sensibilities: severed bright crimson and gryphon cement gray nail polishes ($10), acid green glaze lip tar ($18), and loose color concentrates in three palettes ($14) including a red to lavender inflicted, an icy white to iridescent blue curved sky and nevar, a dirty golden olive shade.
Negovan, who opened the first Century Guild gallery in Chicago in 1999, has been exhibiting at art shows, antique fairs and Comic-Con since 2005. As a result, the gallery that specializes in Noir and Art Nouveau, Symbolism paintings and pieces, has lots of fans in the Hollywood creative world as well as the fantasy film arena.
Director Guillermo del Toro has a signed copy of a book of Potocki's artwork, co-authored by Negovan. Another admirer of the gallery includes Scottish comic book writer Grant Morrison (DC Comics' Animal Man, Batman and Marvel Comics' New X-Men and Fantastic Four.)
Clive Barker is also intrigued by Century Guild, which Negovan is expected to announce about a January show with the author.
"People think of Clive Barker as a writer but he is very multi-faceted," says Negovan. "We have kind of developed of a salon here now of really creative cool people in the LA entertainment and art world."