A View From a Window is the title of the exhibition that Palazzo Bentivoglio in Bologna is dedicating, starting from today 1 December, to Patrick Procktor (1936-2003), English artist, significant voice from the London art scene of the 1960s and 1970s.
This is actually a return to Italy: In 1971 it was Hélène de Franchis of Studio La Città who exhibited the artist in Bologna in a solo show, followed in Spring 1972 by the survey organised in Venice by Paolo and Gabriella Cardazzo of Galleria Il Cavallino, whose international contemporary exhibition programme devoted special attention to Great Britain between 1972 and 1974, with exhibitions by David Leverett, Alexander Holwegg, Robyn Denny, Richard Allen and Scottish artists John Knox, Iain Patterson and Ainsle Yule.
From the pages of 1972 Cavallino exhibition's catalogue, the art critic Alessandro Mozzambani emphasised the "imaginative astonishment" of Procktor's works and "the essentiality" of his paintings, in "a poetic intelligence rendered here in coloured images rather than words".
Installation View of Patrick Procktor, 755a mostra del Cavallino, Venezia 1972. Ph Aldo Fasolo, FGCVe, FC
As Procktor's biographer, Dr Ian Massey, points out: "This is the generation whose childhood was spent in wartime, coming out the other side. The world started to open up, seeming like a world of new possibilities. Procktor was an integral member of his social circle, with Hockney, the fashion designer Ossie Clark and his wife the textile designer Celia Birtwell, Richard Beer, Peter Schlesinger, Mo McDermott, David Gwinnutt and even royalty, Princess Margaret. It was post-war Britain. The Swinging Sixties have almost become a cliché, almost mythologized; Procktor was surrounded by a talented group of people, creating mutual support for each other, in their professional and personal lives”.
Procktor had his first solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in London in 1963, immediately after finishing his studies at the Slade School of Fine Art and having assimilated the influences of David Bomberg, Keith Vaughan and Graham Sutherland. He demonstrated confidence in oil painting and in the bold use of pigment, as well as a predilection for figuration and portraits, with a great empathy with his subjects.
But it was a stay in Europe with David Hockney and Peter Schlesinger in 1967 that brought him closer to drawing and watercolour, which became his privileged medium.
Over the course of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Procktor’s works were acquired by collectors and public and private institutions such as the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy and MoMA, whilst his “The Guardian Readers” appeared on the cover art for Elton John’s 1976 album Blue Moves.
Elton John's Album Cover, designed by Patrick Procktor in 1976
The exhibition at Palazzo Bentivoglio presents a wide selection of artworks (portraits of friends and lovers, intimate interior views and landscapes) with important loans from private Italian and English collections, from Gabriella Cardazzo and from the Redfern and Osborne Samuel Galleries in London. A group of artworks comes instead directly from Palazzo Bentivoglio's permanent art collection, curated and supervised by Tommaso Pasquali.
Patrick Procktor, Picasso Vases, 1968, Palazzo Bentivoglio, Bologna, ph Carlo Favero
Patrick Procktor, Aerial View. Paddington Street Gardens, Marylebone, 1986, private collection, ph Carlo Favero
Patrick Procktor, Charles Newington at the Zattere, 1976, Palazzo Bentivoglio, Bologna, ph Carlo Favero
Patrick Procktor, Dominic Prima, 1981, Palazzo Bentivoglio, Bologna, ph Carlo Favero