Francesca Sundsten, whose paintings have played a significant part of representing King Crimson to the world - beginning with the iconic Cyclops image - has died from complications due to lymphoma. Her work presents a singular tone, quality, and vision, extending the visible world of Crimson’s aural one. It has appeared on KC tour booklets and tour posters - including the 2019 50th Anniversary poster. The image for the Rieflin/Fripp/Gunn CD 'The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior' is also hers - under the nom de brosse C.W. House.
She leaves behind a bereft husband, and two cats who seem to have gotten over it a little too soon. Her death as a painter is the loss of a unique vision and a loss for anyone who finds value in her work. To those who know her, it is a tragedy beyond measure.
From her Memorial:
“There is one key thing to understanding Francesca: simply, she wanted to make the world beautiful. This wasn’t ideologically or philosophically driven - although she could describe it in philosophical terms; it was more a way of being. It was derived in part from decision, but it was largely instinctual. It was an innate expression who she was, utterly natural. This can be seen in her painting, of course, but pretty much in everything else she touched - especially in the houses & gardens of where she lived. If there is only one thing to know about her, this is it: she wanted to make the world beautiful."
She was bemused by those unsettled by the Cyclops image. And as for the Riddle of the Cyclops - What is the meaning of the cigarette? - the answer couldn’t be more obvious: “Because he smokes.” No one seemed to wonder why he was a cyclops.
Her work is represented by Hall Spassov Gallery
From Toyah Willcox:
STANDING AT THE ENTRANCE TO FRANCESCA'S STUDIO
I live with Francesca’s work and therefore I live with Francesca. Thank goodness!
Rather a grand statement, but many years ago I stood at the entrance to her studio in Seattle, which was opposite the bedroom that was so kindly loaned to me whilst I was recording The Humans Sugar Rush. I watched with awe as, daily, she build her pictures.
The mystery of her work unfolded silently, holding me transfixed at the studio entrance every morning before I moved on to the recording studio.
The particular painting taking form on this occasion was MAN OF WAR, which now resides in my London home. It was a strange experience making an album while coveting this painting. As my lyrics came into the world, so did her canvas.
Francesca taught me about patience, confidence, depth of thought and fearlessness when wiping the canvas clean of an idea that wasn’t working for her and bravely going in a completely new direction without fear. Her observation and execution of the human form was unmatched. Her ability to twist the natural into the supernatural with a command of colour that surpassed so many artists was an inspiration.
Yet Francesca was never competitive, only passionate and concerned that the future of such techniques will continue to be passed onto younger generations and that computers should never replace sheer brain power and human ability.
I thank God I knew her . What an awesome talent.
From Robert Fripp:
Francesca Sundsten had a unique way of seeing things: with strange, mysterious and sometimes disturbing developing-variations on her theme. I have no idea where any of this came from. I think it unlikely that Francesca had any sense of her power and status as an artist, nor quite how her work moved and affected people.
We have Francescas all over our home, where they have been part of our lives well before Francesca’s seeings came to present / represent aspects of King Crimson. This is a consolation, the ongoing presence of a yet-to-be fully appreciated talent and a much-missed friend.
Wednesday 7th. August, 2019