By SAM WEBB
Photographer and artist Jason Levesque was walking around an art show in Miami Beach when he found a series of paintings that looked more than a little bit familiar.
Two of the paintings, on sale for around $4,000, had more than a passing resemblance to a pair of stills he had taken, while a third looked an awful lot like an image captured by his close friend Marie Killen.
An outraged Levesque took to Facebook and exposed Josafat Miranda, the artist behind the three paintings on display.
Uncanny: This painting of a woman with smeared lipstick and bunny ears is clearly inspired by Levesque's photo (below)
Exposed: The online art world reacted angrily to Miranda copying the photographer's work and that of his friend
Mirror image: Levesque posted the original images alongside Miranda's on Facebook to expose the similarities
He posted his original pictures alongside Miranda's work, and wrote: 'What Josafat Miranda has done here reveals a total disrespect for photography as an art form.
'He’s quickly and with very little creative altercation, harvesting the yield of someone else’s hard work.
'What makes a painting strong, isn’t just the brush strokes and the rendering method, more, much more, than that is the composition, the subject matter and the hundreds of creative decisions that go into making an original piece of art.'
Miranda’s Facebook page has since been taken offline and he told the Miami New Times the accusations have ruined his reputation and exposed him to a barrage of online threats and insults.
Consequence: Miranda says he has been ruined financially and professionally by the whole incident
He said: 'I didn’t steal these images. My only mistake was not giving the original artists credit.
I’ve now spoken to them and apologised to them.
'We came to the agreement that I have to take everything down and destroy it, which is exactly what I’m going to do.
'Now everything is all f****d up. I don’t have a gallery. I don’t have a job. I don’t have any way to make money.'
A Wynwood-based gallery has since pulled all of his work, cancelled his pending sales, pulled his work from the gallery's website and apologised to Levesque.
Victim: Jason Levesque (left) was angry about his work being used, but has still urged the painter to continue creating art. (Right) Fellow artist Marie Killen
Miranda's paintings were on sale for roughly $4,000 before they were pulled by a gallery concerned by their similarity to Levesque and Kellin's work
'It's a crushing blow to an artist. I'm in no way mean or vindictive or wanting to see that happen,' he said.
Levesque said Miranda did send him an apology and called his work a 'tribute' but Levesque says he should not have kept the source a secret.
The one positive from the affair, Levesque said, is it shows how the art world has a way of policing itself.
However, he does feel Miranda has talent and should keep painting. He urged him to pick up a camera and capture his own inspiration for his art.
Marie Killen, who also appears in many of the images, also found one of her photos had been recreated
Miranda has now agreed to destroy any artwork he created using Levesque and Killen's work for inspiration