Pianist with Dancing Trees
By Les Drummond

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Year
1991
Media
Acrylic and Gouache
Subject Matter
People
Reg. Number
G1330
Size
59 x 75 cm

This piece depicts a dreamlike scene in which a figure plays the piano to an audience of two dancing trees and a seated woman with a child. There is a fifth character in the background, a painter, who is hard at work painting the scene from the corner. This work is exemplary of Drummond’s later style, characterised by bright colours and lyrical imagery.

Drummond’s imaginative approach is on full display, as the vivid colours and distorted perspective lend to the overall sense of surreality. Not only the walls and floor, but the pianist, woman and trees are all decorated with lines and patterns. The perspective of the room itself is heavily slanted toward the foreground, evoking a stage for the fantastic performance. The stage is decorated on one side with a painting of an outdoor scene, drawing a link between paintings and windows as views to a different world. The scene itself seems to be an episode from a fairy tale, and invites the viewer to devise a narrative to match the events as they unfold. The painter is depicted in a bright yellow, setting him off from the rest of the figures. He is present, but not part of the spectacle, as if he, like the viewer, is only an observer.

Drummond’s works depicts mythical, poetic creatures, especially figures, horses, birds, and other animals. In his later paintings, the colours become deeper, and vigorous, and the dream world his figures occupied became vivid yet remain mysterious. The depiction of space in his later works harkens back to a Cubist approach, flattening objects into simple geometric elements to allow the viewer to see all sides at once.

Born in Edinburgh in 1920, Les Drummond served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. His love for art led him to study Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art from 1950 to 54 and at L’École des Beaux-Arts in 1955. After living in London, he returned to Edinburgh to continue painting until he became an art teacher with Lothian Region from 1965 to 85. During this time he produced numerous paintings of landscapes and mythical themes with poetic figures, birds, animals and horses. Although he was principally a painter, Drummond worked with metal as a sculptor in the 1970s and 1980s. He also wrote poetry throughout his career, which his wife published as "Paradise Glimpsed" after his death in 1997.

This piece was donated to Art in Healthcare by the artist’s wife.

Acknowledgements:
Drummond, Les. Paradise Glimpsed. (Edinburgh: N. Drummond, 1999)

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