Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators by Patrick Hall (b.1935)

Angels Ascending and Descending with Heavenly Spectators

Date: 2002
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


About the Artist

Patrick Hall (b.1935)

Born 1935, Tipperary, Ireland. Patrick Hall was born in county Tipperary, Ireland, and works between London and County Sligo. He studied at the Central School of Art in London under Cecil Collins. He has exhibited in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. He is a member of Aosdana, the State body of eminent artists in Ireland. He travels extensively, but his most adventurous and rewarding journey has been an interior one, testing the parameters of the human psyche and the imagination. Currently he has been experimenting with choreography and contemporary dance in relation with drawing and painting. The paradox and enigma at the heart of his work he sees as the paradox of aloneness at the heart of totality and infinity. He is represented by Hillsboro Fine Art in Dublin, Cul de Sac Gallery in London, and Fenderesky Gallery in Belfast.

More Items from the Artist

Search the Collection

Search by Artist