His art is seen as an honest, and sometimes brutal portrayal of his personal experiences and the hardships he has faced in the past. It's eccentric.. a freakish, sometimes comical yet a completely fascinating exploration of a very unique mind. This week we delve into the life and inspirations behind the extraordinary work of Scottish born and bred artist Frank McFadden.
Renowned Glasgow painter Peter Howson who he now shares a studio with, has hailed him as the best artist he has come across in 10 years - and looking at his portfolio, it's not hard to see why. Frank's artistic career has been fueled by not only his urge to create, but also his constant need to express his journey through life - which at times has been just as erratic as the nature of some of his artworks.
It all began at Trossachs Street, Maryhill where he lived with his mother, a care worker, his father, an electrician and his brothers Gerry and Michael. Frank enjoyed school growing up and was always encouraged by his teacher to pursue a career in art although it was something Frank shunned at the time - believing it would never be something he could make a success out of. He instead left school at 16 and began an apprenticeship as a sign writer, simply because it had the ''element of artiness'' he craved. However, the party lifestyle and drug culture of the early 90's began to entice him more and more over the years, until at some point in the midst of it all he found himself taking heroin for the first time - and from there it was a downward sprial. He can't pinpoint exactly when, but at some time around 22 he began to need the drug every day - although he had managed to keep it a secret from those around him even after settling down to get married and have his daughter Frankie. But of course it soon took it's tole on his life and after a series of events he found himself homeless, selling the Big Issue on the streets of Glasgow.
He had lost himself and everything he aspired to be – then one day, in a cafe on Great Western Road, Frank spotted one of Glasgow’s most successful contemporary artists, Mr Peter Howson. He said “I knew his work because I used to stare at a poster he’d done advertising the Don Giovanni opera, with all these intertwining bodies, and I thought it was blindingly good, But how I knew who he was, I really don’t know. I was nervous, but I made myself talk to him. I’d seen him in the cafe the day before and I’d missed my chance. I wasn’t going to do it again.’’
Peter reviewed a collection of Frank’s work that he had gathered together and told him it was some of the best work he had seen in years. From there, not only an artistic connection was born between the two, but a friendship. Frank explained “Peter helped me to believe that I had a future” and slowly he began to turn his life around for himself and his daughter. During the ten years that McFadden was addicted to heroin, he considers himself to have been dead and describes how he has spent the past few years coming back to life with the help of his art.
Frank's most recent body of works are some of his most accomplished paintings to date. He has honed his style from one of his greatest obsessions, faces. More recently Robertson Fine Art has displayed highly impressive large scale oil paintings like 'Memento Mori' and 'Dirty Epic' where the faces remarkably transform into the figure of a skull.
Some may say that this obsession with faces is influenced by his often chaotic and manic earlier life on the streets, with eyes and noses weaving together so much so that it becomes unclear where one portrait ends and the other begins – like the fleeting memories of an addict. Frank himself says:
''I always wonder, if I paint the face of a person I've never seen, then who is it of?'' he says. ''If I trawled the planet would I find someone like it? I used to think all those people lived in my head, but they don't. They just appear at the end of a brush.''
The work of Frank McFadden's is nothing short of extraordinary and we are honoured to display one of the countries most promising Scottish artists of today.
You can see Frank McFadden's full collection here and please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to arrange a viewing.