Medium: Oil on canvas
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Purchased by The Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo, from the Green on Red Gallery, Dublin, 2003
Patrick Hall, a well established artist who has lived in London, Spain and Dublin moved to Sligo in the mid 1990s. He has described this experience as ‘moving upwards and inwards, into hills and mountains’. The large scale and expansive space of these paintings seem at some level to reflect the spaciousness of the Western landscape and coastline. The subject matter of both paintings and of much of Hall’s other work of recent years is drawn largely from the Bible, a book which Hall considers to be rather like a great painting. He has always been interested in biblical stories as a source of happiness and as a description of a world where emotional life is complete (1).
The two Niland paintings refer to this idea in that they depict incidents from the scriptures where the earthly sphere is united with the eternal spiritual world. In Jesus Walking on the Sea, the tiny figure of Jesus stands on tumultuous waves with the boat and apostles at some distance. The pattern and dark grey colour of the waves dominates the painting. Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectacular refers to the story of Jacob’s ladder, when Jacob rests for the night and dreams of a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels going up and down. Hall uses this tale as the basis for his extraordinary painting in which an earth red landscape with stone like forms is covered by lines of figures. The religious sources are used in a universal, metaphysical sense. Hall is not a religious artist. Rather he paints subjects drawn from religious texts in a childlike, uncomplicated way analogous to the way in which biblical stories are constructed and retold. But this simplicity belies the enormously profound ideas of mortality and immortality which both the Bible and Hall’s painting seek to convey. Hall’s approach calls into question the authority of religious beliefs and emphasizes the tenuousness of day to day existence by using simple forms to retell and re-imagine the familiar stories of the scriptures.
(1) Brian McAvera ‘Patrick Hall. Completing the Picture’, Irish Arts Review, Autumn 2007, 24, no.3, pp.68-71.
Written by Roisin Kennedy