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Approaching the artistic work of Frank Stain

Frank Stain was born in Santiago de Chile. A military dictatorship led him to live many years in Sweden until recently and voluntarily he moved and settled in Spanish Andalucía.

His artwork is a personal reflection of his time and the difficulties that he has had to endure. According to him his main concern, always present in his artistical vision is the human condition.

Anonymous, mutilated and polymorphic characters compose his work, where the represented figures transport us to a mystical world where human beings emerge from a dense and dark dimension.

Here too, however, lies optimism because among darkness light emerges and from the tortured figures comes a cry of hope and rebellion.

Frank Stain does not arrogate the particularity of his own voice as a painter. As he explains: “When choosing a name, I opted for that play on words that the name Frank Stain has. In English Frank would mean honest and Stain will be spot… I think I am just that while painting: an honest spot. I also like that people relate my name to Dr. Frankenstein, because, according to the tale, he created his own creature by taking parts from different corpses… I do the same with my art, taking from here and there, no from corpses of course, but from my favourite painters whose artwork left something in me”.

For me the paintings of Frank Stain have the clear intention of not distracting the viewer with details. He wants us to put full attention in the represented figure. The reduce palette of colour, the great format and the way in which he composes his work with an undeniable tendency to sacralise, to elevate the represented, produce that communion so necessary when contemplating a work of art. In his paintings, floating in a primary magma, we face a naked, exposed, suffering and defiant humanity that leads us indelibly to pose questions and vital approaches.

From The CrepusOcular Dog series I want to comment three works.

The first, The Letter (La Carta), oil on canvas, is related to a classical religious representation. Is this a child Jesus accompanied by the sacrificial lamb we see here? Certainly not, but in the mystical image association, the author catches us. Because here the child is the human being to be made, the future, and the lamb in not a passive victim waiting to be slaughtered. The child rest in an inclined plane, through which he slowly slides, while the lamb advancing, brings its paw closer to stop the fall. On the snout also brings a black sealed letter.

The two recurring elements of Frank Stain´s painting, are present here; the primary darkness, the redeeming light emerging from an unknown source.

The second work that I want to comment on is Bad Company, also oil on canvas, figurative work that puts us in front of a terrible celebration where sorcerers and witches encircle a mother with her baby. In the composition the strong line and the reduced palette and the frontal light enhances the macabre atmosphere of the scene. The perspective rests on the blurred characters of the background and a certain movement around the central figure. In my opinion I think we are dealing with a work that possesses the element of strangeness necessary to arrange our attention. The sorcerers emerge in this painting as a warning of their constant existence in the history of mankind.

Finally, I want to refer to The Storm Maker, in this oil on canvas we face a bunch of strange figures. Are they children, are they old midgets? They travel on a fragile boat and the darkness of the night sea surrounds them. From the point of view of the composition we encounter the same characteristics of the previous work: the colour stroke is medium, thick and expressive, the palette is minimal, and a mysterious light makes the figures visible. In both works there is a clear reference to Goya and his black paintings.

In the three previous works as in those belonging to The Divine Anatomy series, nudity represents the fragility, the vulnerability of the human being. The active, challenging attitude of the characters represents their perseverance to survive the chaos humanity itself has created.

The concern for the human condition and his historical implicitness is recurrent in the pictorial frankstainnianan world.

His Latin American soul is objectified with humour, as is the case of his Naked Majo, making clear reference to the influence of Goya, Stain gives an unexpected twist to represent a male and Mapuche nude posing as in the famous Goya painting La Maja desnuda.

However, the Latin American in Frank Stain acquires a deep and at the same time melancholy resonance in the three large oil paintings on canvas that make up his series A Song of Glory: The Fragmentary Chorus, Salvador Allende´s Sky and The Ascension of Che Guevara. Here the colour is richer but still constricted, the stroke strong, all the characters represented concentrate a persuasive power. Three stripped, naked figures sing in The Fragmentary Chorus. They seem to be surrounded or floating in a darkness from which they are rescued by the light that flows from their bodies.

To who does this dispossessed and vulnerable humanity sing?

Two other figures from the recent Latin American history arise in the series: Salvador Allende and El Che Guevara. The first, a Chilean president overthrown and killed in a military coup; the other a well-known revolutionary also killed by military forces in Bolivia. Both already have a place of honour in the pantheon of great Latin American heroes and their example of political consequence is revered all over the world.

The great format of these works and their composition undoubtedly lead us to relate them to almost religious icons, which dwarf us and lead us to contemplate them in an intimate mood avoiding catharsis.

Salvador Allende travels through the sky. He dreams and his greeting hand is accompanied by little Chilean flags, like those you use in all town celebrations.

Che Guevara ascends to heaven like a modern Christ. The peasants from The Angelus by Millet, are a reference to the less fortunate of the world.

When I contemplated these works, aware of the history of these characters, I was invaded by despair feelings; on one side melancholy, a sense of loss, and in the other a deep reflection about humanity and its destiny. And the phrase with which Frank Stain signs his work came to my mind: “post tenebras spero lux”.

Carmen Fernández

Frank Stain artwork is already part of private collections. He has participated in art shows in Sweden, France, Germany and Spain.

Currently he works in Spain Malaga at “El Taller” an space of painting and artistical creation, where different kind of artist, including musicians, meet and share their experiences.

You can always contact Frank Stain at stain.frank@yahoo.se

Address

Calle Los Cristos #7
29008, Malaga Spain

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