Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski
In old Betamax footage, the Polish-American artist Stanislav Szukalski (1893-1987) speaks animatedly about his life and work. Art aficionado Glenn Bray filmed his elderly friend in the last years of his life to document his remarkable career and personality before it was too late. In this wide-ranging portrait, Bray explains how he met Szukalski by chance in 1971 when he came across one of his expressionist drawings and discovered that its maker lived only a few miles away from him. The man leading a modest, anonymous life in Burbank, California turned out to have been a well-known avant-garde artist in Chicago and pre-war Poland.
Szukalski created a mythology entirely of his own in his drawings and paintings, as well as an extensive manuscript. After his return to the United States, a group of artists and art lovers gathered around Szukalski, among them George DiCaprio and his son Leonardo, who jointly produced this documentary. The interviews and archive footage tell the extraordinary life story of a man who seemed to have been born for great things, but who lost virtually all his artwork in the Second World War. His past also includes a dark chapter that the filmmakers didn’t discover until their documentary was in production.