After fifty years, the art of London-based painter Patrick Procktor returns to Bologna

Fifty years after one of his small solo shows, the painting of Patrick Procktor, one of the leading figures on the London art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, returns to Bologna.

From December 3, 2022 to February 5, 2023, Palazzo Bentivoglio in Bologna is hosting the exhibition Patrick Procktor. A view from a window, curated by Tommaso Pasquali, with installation by Davide Trabucco. Fifty years after a small solo show of the British artist organized in Bologna by Hélène de Franchis’ Studio La Città, the monographic exhibition on Patrick Procktor (1936 - 2003), among the protagonists of the London art scene of the 1960s and 1970s, is being held.

In the field of figuration he traced his own personal path, from his experimental beginnings, in the wake of Bacon and Vaughan, to mutual influences with David Hockney, and soon arriving at a clearly recognizable style. In painting and especially inwatercolor, Procktor was able to charge the traditional genres of portrait and landscape with new and personal tensions, lowering them into autobiography and questioning them, in a constant ironic play between depth of representation and surface values. Intellectual friends, children, fellow artists and lovers pose on the couch of his Manchester Street home, while his travels between London, Italy, Morocco, Egypt and China are witnessed by a vast production of travel folios.

The exhibition develops from a nucleus of works from thepermanent collection of Palazzo Bentivoglio and presents the public with a selection of about sixty works, including paintings, watercolors and drawings, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, some of which were already exhibited in Bologna in 1972. The title, taken from a work in Palazzo Bentivoglio, is intended to emphasize the peculiar and subjective character of a stubbornly figurative research, marked by great independence, though completely cast in its time.

Most of the loans come from private Italian and British collections, and the collaboration of Gabriella Cardazzo of the historic Galleria del Cavallino in Venice, Procktor’s friend and dealer in Italy, was crucial. The Redfern Gallery in London, which represented the artist throughout his life, will send an important group of paintings, dating from 1964 to 1989, while two large watercolors from 1969 will arrive on loan from Osborne Samuel.

The second room of the exhibition will be entirely devoted to production on canvas, where it will be possible to follow the artist’s evolution from the Baconian Lovers (1963), from a private Italian collection, to Vedette Pont Neuf, Paris of 1989, through the iconic Gervase I (1968), the first in a long series of portraits dedicated by Procktor to his young lover Gervase Griffith, an aspiring rocker and his model for two years. The works will be set up on metal structures designed by artist Davide Trabucco, who signs the exhibition layout.

The first room, however, will display works that tell the story of the London experienced by the artist in the 1960s and 1970s, between public figures and private affections. On the walls will be a succession of portraits of friends such as fashion designer Ossie Clark, interior designer Christopher Gibbs, and film director Derek Jarman, to those of more institutional patrons such as Lord Montague or Earl Amherst, to still those of his adopted children.

At the entrance, a cage-like structure by Davide Trabucco will present a Procktor watercolor of a pair of Picasso vases portrayed in the home of his friend Cecil Beaton, juxtaposing it with the same two Picasso vases from the Palazzo Bentivoglio collection. In a side room, a screen will instead show two scenes from A Bigger Splash (1973) featuring Hockney and Procktor, a brief appearance by Jarman as Procktor in Stephen Frears’ film Prick Up Your Ears (1987), and an excerpt from the 1988 documentary on the artist My Britain.

The long series of works in the third and final room will lead finally to the early 1990s. Along with some London works, mostly watercolors dedicated to friends, including Italians, and travels will be on display, with the presence of large sheets devoted to Venice, a city he loved and frequented, but also a subject that Procktor gladly returned to develop even from his Manchester Street home.

For info: palazzo

Hours: All Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; open Dec. 8 and 9. Closed Dec. 24,25,31 and Jan. 1.

Image: Patrick Procktor, Juliet Benson (1968; Bologna, Palazzo Bentivoglio). Photo by Carlo Favero

After fifty years, the art of London-based painter Patrick Procktor returns to Bologna
After fifty years, the art of London-based painter Patrick Procktor returns to Bologna

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