Patrick George 1923-2016


Patrick George died in April this year, a few months short of his 93rd birthday. Early next year there will be a memorial at the Slade School of Art - where he taught for 4 decades -  and an exhibition at Browse & Darby. However, before then Cobbold & Judd are organising a retrospective exhibition at the Minories Gallery in Colchester.

Patrick George featured in the seminal “Eight Figurative Painters” exhibition curated by Andrew Forge in 1982, his only major appearance in the United States. His co-exhibitors were Francis Bacon, Euan Uglow, William Coldstream, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, Lucian Freud and Leon Kossoff. That Patrick is not as famous as any of them is in a large measure due to his modestly and lack of worldly ambition. As a consequence his work is not nearly as well-known as it should be.

The Cobbold & Judd exhibition consists of approximately 40 works spanning Patrick’s career and includes drawings made in the late 1940’s at Lower Marsh (behind Waterloo station) where he shared a house with fellow painters including Andrew Forge, Christopher Pinsent and Myles Murphy.

Patrick’s early maturity as an artist is demonstrated in an impressive landscape of Sheepscombe in Gloucestershire.

In 1961 he moved to Hickbush, a tiny hamlet south of Sudbury in Suffolk, where for 25 years he painted many of his most impressive landscapes. The Tate Gallery owns two examples.

The last 30 years of Patrick’s life were spent in an eccentric hexagonal folly called “Grandfathers”, a few miles outside Bury St Edmunds. The largest painting in the exhibition depicts “Grandfathers” surrounded by trees. In recent years Patrick’s work became more instinctive and open-knit. A late interest in the work of Pierre Bonnard suggests how far he had come since the days of Euston Road-inspired monocular measurement.

Although the majority of the works in the exhibition are landscapes, Patrick George also produced a number of high quality portraits. Arguably the finest of them, “Hilary Lane, Night Painting” features in the Minories show. It hasn’t been exhibited since his major retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery in 1980. In an excellent documentary film made towards the end of his life, Patrick discusses this portrait and with typical understatement describes it as “quite respectable… might even be called interesting”. Well, yes. It might also with some justification be called one of the most impressive and original portraits painted in England in the last 70 years.

For more information contact Cobbold & Judd:-

Further reading/viewing:
• “Patrick George”  by Andrew Lambirth , Sansom & Co, 2014 ISBN 9781908326478
• “Patrick George — a likeness”  DVD by Andrew Warrington and Hero Johnson.  Shoehorn films 2013
— Robert Dukes. London, October 2016