Now we’ve been waiting for a Peter Prendergast exhibition in London for ages, this is excellent news, or it would be if we hadn’t just been plunged deeper in in terms of those tiers (of a clown), who knows if we will be able to go to this exhibition in January now? For what it is all worth with everything so up in the air and those bubbles bursting everywhere, the Peter Prendergast show (hopefully) opens early next year on 6th January at Messum’s Gallery, London SW1. Hopefully we will be able to go see the work in the flesh, hopefully we can, well policed gallery spaces are surely safer than most places? Certainly far safer than the post office, the scum in the supermarket or the ridiculous Eat Out To Help Out sight of people crammed into pubs? We need art, we need the sanity and sanctuary of art or a gallery as much as we need a walk in the park
If nothing else you can explore the gallery website and a healthy selection of Peter’s art that can be found there, maybe purchase the show catalogue? No, that’s not enough, we need to see the show!
There’s a beautiful energy to a Peter Prendergast drawing and especially to a Peter Prendergast painting (I almost said big painting but they’re all big really even the smallest ones). He said so so much with every mark he made, with that sometimes almost violent way he made those marks. No, it wasn’t violence, it was commitment, a commitment to the mark. His commitment to both the painting and to an ever changing Welsh landscape that he really did paint so so wonderfully. There was and is an excitement in his light, to his movement, in his boldness and yes he was vigorous, dangerously so at times if you happened to be standing or working next to him as he attacked his pencil with a craft knife or attacked the paper with that freshly sharpened pencil. Sadly Peter Prendergast died back in 2007, he was only 60, he left behind a substantial body of work, an important body of work, a vital collection that combines the excitement of seeing a Francis Bacon painting or a piece from his one time (Slade school) tutor Frank Auerbach with a passionate understanding for and a deep love of the ever changing North Wales landscape. That’s the thing about the Welsh landscape, it is as alive as a Francis Bacon model, it constantly changes, the light, the colour, always moving, always changing, always alive, you can’t really photograph that, Peter was one of the few who really could paint the way it constantly moved, the way things never stay still up in those mountains for a moment, the way the colour of that slate is so so alive up there, always so busy. I’m not sure if Peter Prendergast is as highly regarded here in England as he is by those of us who grew up in North Wales, I haven’t seen a piece in the flesh for years but then I’ve lived and worked in London for far too many years now, I’m genuinely excited about this show, I’m as excited about standing in front of those paintings as i would be about standing in front of a stage waiting for one of my favourite bands to come on, I don’t see why art shouldn’t ignite as much passion in a viewer as an exciting rock band can, why we don’t treat artists like rock starts, who would Peter Prendergast be? Peter Hammill? Neil Young? Patti Smith? Joe Strummer? I can’t wait to see this show, I want to drag people along, hey, come see this band, hey come see this painter’s work, come see it in the flesh, see the marks, the textures, the way the colour moves, come to this and share it with me, come stand in the pit with me and feel it, get down the front, come to the Tracey Emin show and hear that scream, come see Marton Nemes at Fold. Art excites, painting excites. don’t tell me covid is going to rob us again, I really need to see this show…. (sw)
Now recognised as one of Britain’s foremost landscape painters of the 20th Century, Peter Prendergast’s bold expressionist paintings of his Welsh homeland reflect the vigorous style of his tutor, Frank Auerbach. Inspired by the surroundings of his Snowdonia home, he painted the steep valleys and tightly packed housing as it was slowly transformed by slate quarrying during his lifetime. He leaves behind a Studio Estate of works rich in diversity, articulating a superb colourist and a master of form.
12 Bury Street, St. James’s, London
Peter Prendergast – 6th January – 29th January