Artist's Biography
Return to Biographies...

Patrick Swift


Click for larger image

Patrick Swift (1927-1983) was a painter and key cultural figure who lived in both Dublin and London before settling in the Algarve. In Dublin he was part of the McDaid's pub circle of artistic and literary figures that included Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin and Brendan Behan amongst others. He later moved to London where he became an integral member of the Soho set that included Francis Bacon, George Barker, Elizabeth Smart, et al. Swift was largely a self-taught artist though he did attend night classes at the National College of Art in 1946 (under Sean Keating). He later set up his studio on Hatch Street and first exhibited in group shows at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1950 & 51 where his work was singled out by critics. During his career Swift only held two solo exhibitions; Dublin in 1952 and Lisbon in 1974. His work has never been exhibited in Britain. His first exhibition at the Waddington Gallery in 1952 was highly acclaimed. In 1993 the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) held a retrospective of Swifts work. Again, the exhibition received great critical acclaim, with fellow artists such as Derek Hill (Irish Times, 24 January 1994) declaring Swift to be “probably the most formidable Irish artist of this century”.

Richard Morphet, Keeper, Tate Britain from 1986 until 1998 (in his introduction to the Swift exhibition at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery in Cork) wrote :
“Although highly acclaimed in critical and artistic circles, the work of the Irish painter Patrick Swift has rarely been publicly exhibited...The vogue at the end of the 50s for abstract painting was not to his taste, nor could he work with academic realism. He sought an expression of life and human creativity which was meaningful and accessible, yet intensely personal, and inspired by emotion, by landscape. It seemed Ireland and England restricted him. Swift emigrated to Portugal in 1962. He later set up a pottery in the Algarve , whose part in the revival of the regional craft has been recognised. Here Swift made a huge contribution to the popularisation of the Algarve , and to the recognition of the beauty of Portugal 's landscape, history and culture...These are some of his most resonant works, where he has found his voice, and in the invigorating new climate the change in his painting was towards an enhanced sensuous warmth, a sense of the integrity of light and a feeling of the integration with nature, of painter and viewer.")