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Frank Licsko
The life of Frank Licsko began in Budapest, Hungary on May 1,1946. The time between his birth and his family‘s escape to Austria when Frank was ten was difficult for all Hungarians. It was during one of the countless times spent hiding in the basement waiting for Hungarian revolutionaries and the Russians to stop they’re firing, that the family decided to emigrate to America. Upon their arrival in Austria, they were informed that their dream of America was not to be fulfilled. America had reached its quota of Hungarians. The family as refugees lived in relative comfort for six months waiting to be relocated somewhere. Frank has many fond memories of the freedom he felt as he explored the small Austrian villages during that time out of a school system. May 8, 1957 Frank, his parents, and his two younger sisters arrived in Montreal, Canada. While the family waited to be assigned their final destination, the new immigrants were shown films that would acquaint them with the culture of their new country. The most influential feature was a documentary about Canada’s best-known artists, The Group of Seven. Frank remembers being very impressed with the landscape and rugged lifestyle of these revered artists. The Licsko’s were sent to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but eventually settled in Ontario. Frank Licsko missed one full year of school before arriving in Canada, and when he was admitted to the new school system he was held back a full grade to help him catch up in the English language. He was far ahead of his age equivalent in mathematics and the sciences. Assimilating into the Canadian culture took time and Frank found solace in painting. The money he made with his talent went mostly to help the family, keeping enough to buy him the occasional coke and French fries. His parents were very encouraging, his father often shared his dreams with Frank, and his mother was always telling him he would be the world’s greatest artist. While other boys were involved in sports and other school activities, Frank was in his room working on perfecting his skills. At the age of fourteen Frank entered an international art competition sponsored by Art Instruction School of Minneapolis and won first place and a scholarship. The correspondence course in the techniques of painting was the only instruction Frank ever received with the exception of a short stint at the Ontario College of Art. After only three weeks the 22 year-old left feeling they had nothing to teach him. Frank found inspiration and discovered more techniques within the glossy pages of the art books on Da Vinci, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Kreigoff, and then later, Dali. It was probably the Dali influence that allowed Frank to create two very powerful and introspective works called Dynasty and The Old Man . “Dynasty , a beautifully painted but equally disturbing image depicting the burning aftermath of a war torn city, was an obvious catharsis of his childhood. “The Old Man , is a magnificently detailed, real yet surreal portrait of the nineteen year old artist himself projected into a not too optimistic future. Not surprisingly, Frank being in his early twenties, found inspiration with the female figure. In Canada, at that time, it was the honest nude that was in vogue. Frank preferred to paint his ideal female bathed in moonlight or some other romantic and poetic scene. He continued with the subject until after he was married with children. From the birth of his first child and for many years his subjects came from the reality of his home life. Tender images of a mother and child, or a child at play, Frank used his own family as models surrounding them in beautiful dreamlike backgrounds, again idealized, different from what he himself experienced as a child. Later he became interested again in landscapes, finding much inspiration from both the rural southern Ontario, and the moody coastline of British Columbia. The year before moving his family of four to California in the early eighties, Frank Licsko had found new visions of the landscape coming through him. He began to dissect the reality into an abstract view, bending, twisting, and layering it into a completely unique and original style. Soon Licsko paintings and serigraphs were being collected throughout out North America, Europe and Japan. After six years in Los Angeles, the Licskos moved to the Monterey Peninsula of central California drawn by the spectacular coastline and the seasonal changes of color in the gently rolling hills. In the early 1990’s Frank found himself experiencing a clash of cultures within him. He felt the influences of his early European years with the cathedrals and art of the old masters, the Canadian importance of the landscape, and the pull of contemporary California lifestyle effecting himself and his family. In an attempt to reunite with the core of his personal style, he tried figures again, this time in an elongated, emotionally expressive manner, studying the essence of man rather than a particular individual. Without the use of models, Frank used his innate understanding of the human anatomy to create haunting visions of human interactions. He also explored his interest in simple abstract forms without the usual addition of the landscape. He tried many different printing techniques, linocut, etching, and mezzotint, creating several small editions in his own studio. He experimented with every inspiration that came his way until in 1998 he discovered the important thing that was to be free to paint what ever whenever he wanted. Frank Licsko is happy to be painting his surreal geometric landscapes again, and is particularly excited about his new “California Roll series. Inspired by the beauty of his surroundings near his home in Carmel or the scenery discovered from his wanderings on the back roads throughout the golden state, the “California Roll series is still evolving. And so is Frank Licsko. TECHNIQUE People often ask about the techniques Frank uses to create his unique style. Before computers they wondered if perhaps he was lighting the canvas from behind. Some said the realistic works were just enlarged photographs. Today many just assume he uses a computer. He does not yet know how to use a computer. With the exception of his correspondence course from Art Instruction Schools of Minneapolis when he was fifteen, Frank is a self-taught artist. From his earliest paintings on, he has experimented on his own searching for the method that would help him achieve the look he wanted. For many years, he tried to emulate the look of the old masters available to him through the glossy pages of art books. He searched for a smooth finish without visible brush strokes, unaware of the textures the old masters often left on their on works. In the late sixties, he experimented with painting on gessoed silk, hoping to eliminate the look of woven canvas. Later he was able to find finer qualities of linen. When he made the transition to larger landscapes, he found grades of cotton canvas that were also very good. Almost all Licsko paintings are oils. He has completed one or two all-acrylic paintings, but he prefers the medium of oil for its capacity for smoother blending. If you're wondering how he gets that smooth transition from light to dark or from one color to another Frank does not use an airbrush or any other convenient tool. The only way to get the look he is able to achieve is by spending a lot of time on each canvas. Currently Frank starts a new painting with a mid-tone background color laid on with a cheap two-inch brush, and finishes with brushes as small as a Windsor Newton #2 watercolour. Over his more than forty years as a professional artist, his techniques have varied. The desire for realism has been challenged by his own desire to have no boundaries, even his own. During the early part of the nineties, he faced the turmoil inside himself by trying to work solely from inspiration and emotions. Going beyond his usual aesthetic boundaries, he was searching for another kind of beauty. An example of this is “Handshake ; hardly beautiful, this powerful work is crudely done by comparison to his other works, this image is almost without color. The average large painting usually takes between three to six weeks. Several of his “California Roll paintings took longer. “California Spring Roll took almost three months to complete because of the large amount of grassland in the image and its difficult composition. Frank had to invent a reality to make it work. It’s not real but it looks as if it could be. He greatly enjoys making scenes that cannot be created by the camera.