Artwork of the Month: June

Artwork of the Month: June

June's Artwork of the Month has been chosen by Ros Cuthbert RWA. She has picked The Guitar Player by Stanislaw Frenkiel from the RWA Permanent Collection. Ros writes:

Wow! This painting can’t help but catch my breath with its glorious exuberance and humour. Skinny, battered old man in blue, huge black hat framing his head like a warped halo. Guitar reduced to a bright hot brown disk (more like a banjo?) with fretboard sticking out, not in an elegant diagonal but unrepentantly horizontal, bisecting the canvas and jutting out of the picture. The guitarist sitting on a grassy bank seems also to be standing on one leg - dancing? – or as if the chair has suddenly dematerialised: is he standing or sitting? Perhaps he has been lifted from a bar room sketch and given a new place in the sun for his performance. Anyhow he is ‘in yer face’, filling the picture space, and strumming his guitar for whom? For me? For someone standing to my left and behind me? Or just to the sun and wind? To the dark lake, and the racing, cloudy sky?

The guitarist’s right hand is gnarled, approximate… is he making a fist of it? The left hand grips the fretboard but is only summarily plucking the strings. The effect is of unsophisticated music straight from the heart and gut. It is an idea of a guitarist, painted from memory, reinvented in a burst of joie de vivre.

This painting speaks to me of qualities of bravery and determination. I see it as full of vigour, fun and sensuous joyful delight. It is rugged, although there is romance there too. It is about surviving in spite of everything. In spite of war, sickness, death and fear. Despite inhumanity and uncertainty. Surviving for love and a passionate pursuit of an ideal of beauty. I am thinking of Stanislaw’s life.

Stanislaw Frenkiel's painting will be on display on our upstairs landing throughout the month of June.