All for art

Thu, Oct 22, 1998, 01:00

There are so many plaques on houses around town which prompt the question, "Who cares?", that it is particularly good to welcome the one which has just been unveiled on no. 5 Lower Hatch Street, site of the studio of the painter, Patrick Swift. Swift, born in 1927, studied at the College of Art in Dublin, but only kept his Dublin studio for a few years. In 1954 he won a travelling scholarship to study and work in Italy and France, and in 1956 he moved to London, where he mixed with other Soho-based artists like Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Leon Kosoff, Michael Andrews, George Barker and Patrick Kavanagh.

In the magazine he founded, X, he championed the work of figurative artists such as Frank Auerbach, Craigie Atchison and David Bomberg, and attacked abstract art as being "the art of the establishment".

He became disenchanted by the commercial pressures exerted by the London art world, and in the 1960s, moved to Portugal, where he founded a small pottery as a source of income, and so revived a dying craft. He shunned publicity and avoided exhibitions, but he was persuaded to hold a major one in Lisbon in 1974. He died in 1983, and 10 years later his paintings were brought to Ireland, as he had always wished, and a retrospective exhibition of his work was shown at IMMA.