Taming the Gypsy

Photography by BLake Crosby.

World traveler Vincent Golshani lived in 26 countries and ran with the likes of Salvador Dali before settling in Savannah. The life of a family man may have slowed this self-professed rebel and troublemaker, but he still lives by his own rules. 

Vincent Golshani doesn’t jaywalk anymore, he says. I’ve never personally crossed a street with the man, but as someone who jaywalked to get to the interview, I have no room to doubt him. He was a wild child, jaywalking freely across the literal and figurative boundaries of the civilized world.

These days, he toes the line. Mostly.

He lives up to the edge but doesn’t cross it, a self-imposed restriction that comes from his new life as a family guy.  He adores his daughter and fell in love with his wife the minute he met her. “I told her mother right then and there that I was going to marry her,” he said.

Over multiple continents and through different worlds from abject wealth to artistic bohemia, Golshani’s nomadic life unfurled in a fascinating bildungsroman.

“My dad told me ‘If you don’t cut your hair, don’t come back home.’ So, I got lost for 21 years.”

At the young age of 14, he left behind a privileged family life where bodyguards and chauffeurs were his constant companions. “I was born in what you’d call a crazy amount of wealth,” he said. Everything was controlled, and he hated rules. He would evade his bodyguards, who came to resent him for the reprimanding they took over losing track of him. “My dad told me ‘If you don’t cut your hair, don’t come back home.’ So, I got lost for 21 years. His view of success was wearing a three-piece suit. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be a gypsy,” Golshani said. His mother, for her part, was always supportive, encouraging him to paint and chase his dreams.

Golshani’s gypsy life took him through Switzerland, London and Ibiza, where he met Salvador Dali. An endorsement from the famous artist that Golshani’s work was a “vision of extraordinary” jumpstarted his painting career. Now, all Golshani first editions are marked with a small pink face — a rendering of a sculpture Golshani says Dali gifted to him during that time. “Since the early 1980s, my work became sought after because of the pink man and Dali’s comment,” he said.

A gypsy life gave Golshani a broad perspective on the value of being exposed to different ways of living. “Travel is important because you get to meet different cultures. I love the U.S. This is my country, but this is not all there is. People live differently. That’s why I travel,” he explained. “I want to see how people live in the Congo, how people live in Spain, how people live in Fiji.”

And with each stop in his journey his renown as a painter grew. And Golshani is quick to point out that he thinks of himself as a painter, not an artist. The distinction is essential to Golshani’s approach to his work and his life. He distances himself from the snobbery of the artiste and the art critic. He explained, “Art snobs are like wine snobs. They have no place in my gallery. I like tacos. You like hamburgers. If a critic says, his taco is not as good as this guy’s hamburger, well, those are two different things. My tacos sell 370 paintings a year, so I’m doing something right.” His advice? Paint what you like.

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