Peter de Francia. An Intimate View

15 March - 5 May 2012

James Hyman Fine Art is honoured to present our fifth solo exhibition of the work of one of Britain's most powerful figurative painters and draftsmen. As with each of our previous exhibitions, Peter de Francia. An Intimate Viewexplores a specific aspect of the artist's complex oeuvre. The exhibition is staged as a tribute to de Francia, who passed away in January.

What unites many decades of drawing and painting is de Francia's fascination with people and the connections between them. This may often focus on power and its abuse, but de Francia also celebrates moments of warmth and affection. Though he is often associated with, and acclaimed for, his biting socio-political portrayals in the vein of Goya, Grosz and Beckmann, Peter de Francia. An Intimate View considers a different aspect of the artist's oeuvre: the conviviality of daily life, the joy of leisure, the sustenance of friendship. 

Demonstrating above all de Francia's intense humanity, the exhibition explores an intricate world of companionship and the pursuit of life's simple pleasures, and observes the often subtle threads of humour and camaraderie within them. 

Although de Francia, who grew up in Paris, spent most of his life in London, he was very much a European intellectual and retained a home in France. A sub-theme of the exhibition is the importance of European culture to his work and, in particular, how de Francia's time in France resulted in some of his most intimate and lyrical paintings. From the stone carvings of a church in Bohemia, he presents a series of tender images of a mother and child, and at the May Day Parade in Rouen he focuses on a family unit. In the countryside a woman washes and dries herself, outdoors and unselfconscious. Men gather almonds in the garden and friends sit around a table under the shade of a tree after a lunch of good food and wine. At the beach a youth practices handstands.

Even in de Francia's celebrated Disparates series, it is not simply injustice that fires the work but also compassion and sympathy. In his drawing of the Minotaur, de Francia conveys immense empathy for the Minotaur's predicament. A shocking scene of a blind man is softened by the central focus on the tenderness between man and boy. In a major painting, The Violation of Innocence, soldiers are presented as killing machines, but at the warm centre of the work two lovers lie asleep.

Peter de Francia (1921 - 2012) 
Recent Solo exhibitions have included a 90th birthday tribute at James Hyman Gallery in January 2011; Peter de Francia at Tate Britain in 2006; The Ship of Fools: Peter de Francia in Focus at Pallant House in 2007-08, and a drawing retrospective, Modern Myths, which toured the United States in 2008.

The Estate of Peter de Francia is represented by James Hyman Fine Art, London.