Autumn on Arthur's Seat
By Henry Kondracki

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Year
2004
Media
Watercolour
Subject Matter
Landscape
Reg. Number
G1335
Size
77 x 94 cm

Henry Kondracki's work primarily focuses on the changing faces of Edinburgh. The scenes are painted whimsically but honestly and depict the grey tones of the more permanent features of the city such as tenements, monuments, statues and churches. Against these he places the vibrant colours of the city which we sometimes don't see as we trudge through the rain and snow - the orange of the street lights; the yellows of traffic signs; bright red buses and brightly coloured cars, clothes and umbrellas.

This watercolour, 'Autumn on Arthur's Seat', is predominantly shades of greens, reds and browns. It depicts Edinburgh as a small collection of grey buildings surrounded by trees and grassy parkland. A young figure sits in the foreground while the historic monuments of Calton Hill look back at him from the skyline. Edinburgh appears warm and embracing but sits under a cloudy, grey sky.

Henry's style of blurring edges means it is not exactly clear where the city ends and surrounding nature begins, but the line of tall trees which runs from the bottom of the hill to the top of Calton Hill creates a wall which confronts the small city. This alludes to a conflict between nature and the city, where buildings look onto green spaces, but have had to carve a hole into the natural landscape in order to be there. At the moment nature appears to be holding its own. The city appears to have forced itself in from the left hand side of the painting and only occupies a small portion of the scene, while nature dominates the remainder.

Henry Kondracki was born in Edinburgh in 1953, to a Polish father and a Scottish mother, and studied at Slade School of Fine Art in London between 1982 and 1986. He exhibits widely in the UK and overseas and his work is in several notable collections. His characteristic preoccupation is with the street life of his native city, painting familiar scenes which make one think twice about Edinburgh, provoking thoughts, memories and emotions. His impressionistic depictions are often humanised by the featuring of a lone figure or a couple, engaging in their typical activities within the scenes.

With thanks to the Scottish Gallery for artist information

Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Henry Kondracki