|Birth Day:||August 12, 1927|
|Death Date:||Jul 19, 1983 (age 55)|
Irish figurative painter known for his landscapes, portraits, and paintings of trees. He belonged to the Envoy arts review and McDaid's pub circle that also included Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, and Brendan Behan.
As per our current Database, Patrick Swift died on Jul 19, 1983 (age 55).
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He attended the National College of Art during the 1940s and displayed his artwork for the first time at the 1950 Irish Exhibition of Living Art.
He was educated at Synge Street CBS, a Christian Brothers School in Dublin. Although a self-taught artist he did attend night classes at the National College of Art in 1946 & 48 (under Sean Keating), freelanced in London in the late 1940s and attended the Grande Chaumière in Paris, where he met Giacometti, in the summer of 1950. In the late 1940s he had a studio on Baggot Street, and from 1950-52 he set up his studio on Hatch Street. Lucian Freud would share Swift's studio when he visited Dublin. He first exhibited professionally in group shows at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1950 & 51 where his work was singled out by critics. The Dublin Magazine commented on Swift’s "uncompromising clarity of vision which eschews the accidental or the obvious or the sentimental" and "shows his power to convey the full impact of the object, as though the spectator were experiencing it for the first time." In 1952 he held his first solo exhibition at the Waddington Galleries. Time magazine:
In Dublin he formed part of the Envoy arts review / McDaid's pub circle of artistic and literary figures. In London he moved into the Soho bohemia where, with the poet David Wright, he founded and co-edited X magazine. In Portugal he continued painting while also writing and illustrating books on Portugal and founding Porches Pottery, which revived a dying industry. During his lifetime Swift had only two solo exhibitions. His first exhibition at the Waddington Gallery, Dublin, in 1952 was well acclaimed. For Swift, however, his art seems to have been a personal and private matter. In 1993 the Irish Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of Swift's work.
"Irish critics got a look at the work of a tousled young (25) man named Paddy Swift and tossed their caps in the air. Paddy's 30 canvases are as grey and gloomy as Dublin itself — harshly realistic paintings of dead birds and rabbits, frightened-looking girls and twisted potted plants. Their fascination is in the merciless, sharply etched details, as oppressive and inquiring as a back-room third degree. Dublin Understands. Wrote Critic Tony Gray in the Irish Times: Swift 'unearths [from his subjects] not a story, nor a decorative pattern, nor even a mood, but some sort of tension which is a property of their existence.' Said the Irish Press: 'An almost embarrassing candor... Here is a painter who seems to have gone back to the older tradition and to have given the most searching consideration to the composition of his painting.' Dublin, which likes authors who write with a shillelagh, understood an artist who painted with one. The Word Is Tension. By 1950, Paddy was in Paris... Nights, he went to the galleries, and there he found what he wanted to do. He liked such old French masters as the 17th century's Nicolas Poussin, the 19th century's Eugène Delacroix, such moderns as Switzerland's Alberto Giacometti and Britain's Francis Bacon. The much-admired decorative style of the Matisses is not for Paddy Swift. 'Art,' he thinks, 'is obviously capable of expressing something more closely related to life than these elegant designs.' His main idea is to suggest the tensions he finds in life. 'I believe when you bring, say, a plant into a room, everything in that room changes in relation to it. This tension — tension is the only word for it — can be painted.'" This may have been Swift's only interview. A motif of his work at this time was his bird imagery, which appear to have symbolic overtones, and may have even been a subtle form of self-portraiture. From early on he was involved with literary magazines, such as The Bell and Envoy, contributing the occasional critical piece on art and artists he admired (e.g.Nano Reid, who painted Swift's portrait in 1950). He formed part of the group of artists and writers who were involved with Envoy. Dublin portraits include Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, John Jordan, Patrick Pye, and Julia O'Faolain. During this period he also got to know the likes of Samuel Beckett (possibly one portrait) and Edward McGuire. Following the Waddington exhibition Swift moved to London in November 1952, using it as his base, with occasional trips to Dublin and stays in France, Italy, Oakridge and the Digswell Arts Trust.
Swift was familiar with London and its literary and artistic circles by the early 1950s. In 1953 he shared a flat with Anthony Cronin in Camden but actually used it as his studio, staying instead with Oonagh in Hampstead — it was at this point that Swift and Wright first discussed the idea of creating a new literary magazine, a quarterly which would publish writing on artistic issues they felt to be of importance. 1957-58 he had a flat and studio in Eccleston Square. 1959-62 he lived in Westbourne Terrace (Elizabeth Smart lived upstairs), and it was during this period that he founded X magazine
In 1954 he was awarded a grant by the Irish Cultural Relations Committee to study art in Italy. He was accompanied by his future wife, Oonagh Ryan. Following his year in Italy Swift returned to Dublin, via Paris and London, for Christmas 1955, where Oonagh wanted to be for the birth of their first child. He then returned to London in 1956 and accepted Elizabeth Smart's offer to share Winstone Cottage (then owned by John Rothenstein), which contained a studio, in Oakridge, Gloucestershire. October 1958 – October 1959 he held a fellowship at the Digswell Arts Trust, for a period sharing a studio with Michael Andrews. During his residency at Digswell he painted many views of Ashwell and its Springs, one of which was presented by Henry Morris to Comberton Village College at its opening in 1959.
London portraits include the poets George Barker, Patrick Kavanagh, David Wright, Brian Higgins, John Heath-Stubbs, Paul Potts, C. H. Sisson, and David Gascoyne. At the time Swift was sometimes referred to as the "poets' painter" — many of his close friends were poets and they seem to have regarded him as "their" painter. Apart from close family members, poets were almost exclusively subjects of his portraits. Regarding these London portraits Fallon says, "once again, his approach was basically humanist, not formalist... [these London portraits] are among the finest portraits painted in Britain at this period... Yet they were seen by only a handful of people, and in some cases were even lucky to have survived." In 1962 Swift left London for an extended trip to southern Europe.
Swift’s travels led him to the small fishing village of Carvoeiro in the Algarve. He was so enchanted with the place that he remained. In Algarve he painted, wrote and illustrated books on Portugal and founded Porches Pottery (Olaria Algarve). He designed the building that houses Porches Pottery, along with several other buildings. He exhibited: drawings for Algarve: a portrait and a guide at the Diário de Notícias Gallery, Lisbon (1965); an exhibition of Porches Pottery at the Galeria Diário de Notícias, Lisbon (1970); an exhibition of his paintings at Galeria S Mamede, Lisbon (1974). He designed the sets for The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Portuguese National Theatre Company, Lisbon (1977). Swift lived and worked in the Algarve from 1962 until his premature death, from an inoperable brain tumour, in 1983. His work from this period includes portraits of his friend Francisco de Sá Carneiro (who commissioned Swift to paint his portrait when he was elected Prime Minister in 1980) and his partner, Snu Abecassis (Danish-born journalist and editor who founded the Portuguese publishing house, Publicações Dom Quixote). Swift is buried in the Igreja Matriz church in Porches, for which he designed the stations of the cross.
In 1993 Gandon Editions published a biography of Swift to coincide with the IMMA Retrospective. The IMMA Retrospective was acclaimed by critics and artists alike. In 2002 the Department of Foreign Affairs (who also awarded Swift the grant to study in Italy) sponsored the "Patrick Swift: An Irish Artist In Portugal" exhibitions that were held at the Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, and Palacio Foz in Lisbon. In 2004 Swift's work appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow. In 2005 the Office of Public Works, Dublin, held an exhibition of paintings, drawings and watercolours by Swift. His portrait of Patrick Kavanagh forms part of the CIÉ (Irish state transport authority) collection and recently toured as part of the "CIE: Art On The Move" exhibitions to much acclaim. Two pictures from IMMA's permanent collection, Forget-me-[K]nots on a Cane Table & London Self-Portrait, were exhibited in "The Moderns" exhibition (IMMA, October 2010-February 2011).
Currently, Patrick Swift is 93 years, 11 months and 13 days old. Patrick Swift will celebrate 94th birthday on a Thursday 12th of August 2021.
Find out about Patrick Swift birthday activities in timeline view here.