Media Release: Frank To cries wolf with Shadowlines exhibition


FRANK To, the young Glasgow-based artist with a growing international reputation as a leading contemporary figurative painter, cries wolf with his new ‘Shadowlines’ exhibition.

Following his sell-out ‘Plague Doctors’ exhibition at The Leith Gallery earlier this year, To’s latest work is inspired by fairytales and folklore and includes an exploration of the significance of the wolf as a symbol for the darker side of the human psyche.

To said: “I’ve called the exhibition ‘Shadowlines’ because I regard fairytales as ‘shadows’ of the truth. Most fairytales are morality tales that raise the question of where to ‘draw the line’ when confronted with various moral dilemmas.

“The symbol of the wolf emerges in one of my paintings – ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ – as  a shadow; I was intrigued by the fact that, in psychoanalysis, the wolf is thought to be representative as a symbol of the shadow self.”

To said that one of the reasons why he decided to embark on a body of work based on fairytales is that he grew up around folklore in school where tales of Kelpies and Robert Burns’s Tam O’Shanter captured his imagination.

More recently, a reading of Angela Carter’s ‘Book of Fairytales’ prompted further research into the subject and To proceeded to read Brothers Grimm’s Fairytales, J. F Campbell’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Charles Perrault’s ‘Histoires et contes du temps passé’, which contains the famous ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and many more works.

“What I discovered from my research is that there are various adaptations of the same fairytales from country to country,” he said.

“For example, the Scottish fairy-tale ‘Gold-Tree Silver-Tree’ by Joseph Jacobs is an adaptation from the Armenian fairy-tale Nourie Hadig.

“Indeed, Scotland has a rich source of folklores and fairytales which can be found in many countries, but in different contexts and variations.”

Consequently, To’s Shadowlines exhibition consists of 11 paintings that depict several scenes of fairy-tales from different parts of the world; one of them being the Scottish folklore, ‘The Battle of the Birds’.

“This exhibition is unusual for me in the fact that the ten of the Shadowlines paintings are all the same size; something I’ve never done before,” said To.

“The reason I’ve chosen to do so with these paintings was to explore the story board format more commonly used by directors in the film industry.”

And just as To’s celebrated ‘Plague Doctors’ exhibition incorporated an element of performance art, so too does ‘Shadowlines’.

“Because, for me, the word ‘fairy-tale’ is based on the idea that we are often disappointed because the reality of our lives can never live up to the fantasy worlds depicted in fairytales, I will be exploring this theme further by adorning a costume to bring to life the wolf character depicted in my ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ painting and performing a reading of the tales I have depicted visually,” he said.

Frank To’s ‘Shadowlines’ exhibition will show at Gallery Q in Dundee from 17 September till 15 October. ‘Shadowlines’ features 11 paintings, ten of which are sized 40 x 50cm, each priced at £1,800.


For further information please contact Frank To on tel 07796 312613

Issued on behalf of Frank To Fine Art by Liquorice Media tel 0141 561 4018

Date 15th September 2011

Notes to editors

  • Born in Falkirk in 1982, To graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a BA (Hons) Fine Art before going on to gain a Masters of Fine Art from Duncan of Jordanstone Art College where his tutor was Calum Colvin. In recent years, he has exhibited alongside some of the greats of the international art scene, including Banksy, Jimmy Choo and Antony Gormley.
  • His work has featured in several national art fairs and shows in Bath, Harrogate, London, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow and in the collection of Dundee University.
  • Amongst To’s most famous collectors are Sir Patrick Stewart, the celebrated actor, and Deloitte.

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Contact: Susan Christie
Phone: 0141 561 4018