Peter de Francia: after the bombing

11.03.2005 • 15.04.2005

Peter de Francia: after the bombing


An exhibition of paintings and drawings by Peter de Francia, one of the most powerful voices in British art of the last half century.

The exhibition focuses on two of Peter de Francia's most important bodies of work, one specific, the other allegorical.

It begins with paintings and drawings relating to de Francia's most ambitious early painting, The Bombing of Sakiet (1959), currently on display at Tate Modern, which are specific to an event yet possess a contemporary relevance as a larger statement about the innocent victims of war.

The exhibition then presents some of de Francia's most powerful and disturbing drawings of the late 1960s and 1970s, the Disparates, a title previously used by Goya to designate situations without rhyme or reason, totally divorced from logic.

Although de Francia's works are not a direct response to recent world events, whether they be in Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq, they have a particular contemporary relevance. Every mark that de Francia puts on paper or canvas reflects his engagement with the present.

Whether de Francia's subjects are real or imagined, whether he uses the language of myth or fable, what always comes through is the artist's engagement with people, above all his intense humanity,. Yes, there is horror at man's treatment of man, but there are also intimations of something better - a world of friendship and camaraderie, of humour and simple pleasures: tenderness is obvious in paintings such as Three Nudes Washing, with Mirror (c.1960).

There may be precedents for Peter de Francia's work in that of Goya, Beckmann, Grosz, Picasso and Guttuso, but his is a distinctly personal vision, as relevant today as it was half a century ago.

Many of the works included are being exhibited for the first time.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensively illustrated publication, including new texts by the artist.

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