WE ARE delighted to welcome an old friend back for what will be his third solo show here in the Oriel Gallery.
We first exhibited his work nearly twenty years ago. The real problem, then as now, was to hold onto the paintings for long enough to mount a formal exhibition. It is worth the effort: in these forty-odd examples we are given a rare chance to see the full range and scope of Pat’s technique.
His relationship with his favourite subjects – the sea, the hunt, his beloved Venice – is expressed, finally, in the sensuality of paint. I have often wondered if, as with Le Brocquy, his early training as a scientist helped in his relentless exploration of the tempers and humours of pigment. If so, it has been a lifelong study.
For the chaos and energy of a hunting scene, he may deploy semi-abstract striations and strokes. For the background to a seascape, he may use a dreamily diluted wash. In either case, Pat’s relationship with paint is the result of decades of give and take: the artist learning how to control viscosity, fluidity and weight; the paint agreeing, finally, to succumb to the caress and seduction of the brush.
It is fascinating to look back, to see an evolution from gentle intimacy to confident mastery. On the way, painterly “accidents” (as Bacon liked to call them) seem, more and more, to go his way. Look around the walls and you will see that the paint is still in charge, but that it has been deployed to serve a lively and brilliant vision.