Frank Fidler painting which is titled ‘Frottage’ and signed on verso. ‘Frottage’ is drawn in crayon, overlaid with a dark blue wash, pencil squaring and signed centre of image. Not date but circa 1960.
Occasionally the creative seed flourishes on stony ground. this is certainly the case with Frank Fidler whose early life was anything but conducive to the arts. Born in 1910 to a family of flower growers in North London, his childhood passed practically unnoticed by his parents in the dawn-to-dusk business of earning a living from the land. Young Fidler also had to turn to and by the time he was eight or nine years old he was already working after school and in the holidays. His earliest realisation of colour values dates from an even earlier period, when, at the age of four, he was allowed to assist in sorting roses into various shades.
There was practically no indication of the potential painter during the next few years. He married and broke withe family tradition by starting business on his own account as a greengrocer-an enterprise which eventually proved highly successful.
It was 1947 before Frank Fidler began to paint seriously and as might be expected, in view of his background, this early work consisted mostly of flower studies painted with charm and sincerity yet showing vigour and breath unusual in a beginner. Any lesser amateur might have been content with achievement for although he worked regularly well into the night after a hard day’s work this brought its reward and a great many of the paintings were sold.
Perhaps the most important substitute for academic training was his association with a small group of sensitive people, some practising painters, who recognised his potentialities and gave him encouragement to progress. Discussion, frank criticism and his extremely conscientious struggles at life classes have provided the only technical basis for what I believe to be one of the most exciting and sincere visual expressions of today.
In 1955 he abandoned his business for the much less certain profession of painting. By this time his work, although still figurative, had passed through many stages of development and possessed a maturity which seemed more like the result of a lifetime than ten years work. Methods were tried and discarded, media of all kinds, including sculpture carving and constructional forms were exploited to their limits-then, as now, there was always a sense of progression, always something fresh, exhilarating and vital, qualities which I am convinced will be apparent in Frank Fidler’s work as long as he continues to paint.
H.J.Wilson, London 1959