I first got to know Patrick Hall in the late1980’s when we were both living and working in Dublin, and although twenty seven years my senior, we connected as fellow painters and have remained friends since then – both moving to rural Co Sligo in the early 1990’s.
From the start of 2020, we began to develop a kind of symbiotic and collaborative studio practice. I formalised my otherwise social and weekly visits, into working time for us both in his studio. It was in part a way to deal with the strangeness of those human times, of the pandemic, and extreme lockdowns in Ireland, and some way to soften isolation and address challenges of health and aging. I had often painted him since we first met, and these new circumstances allowed me to both assist him to return to work in the studio, and for me to deepen my own portrait practice.
It has been a remarkable experience observing him so closely making work over these last years, and seeing paintings emerge from a place that is truly difficult, in common language, to describe: In Eastern thinking they can be understood to flow from a man approaching the full and boundless emptiness that is at the heart of all existence. From my perspective these are not platitudes, but moments of real encounter, observing ‘being’ finding some material form in these open ended, and appropriately named ‘working drawings’. The essence of this new work is a complete absence of force, an evolving release of the bindings of mind, spirit, and body – while painting without expectation. It is simultaneously a holding of everything, and nothing. They are, like much of his work over a lifetime of painting; moments approaching inner freedom in the face of the human complexities that exist for us all – moving simultaneously inward and outward in our universe, and in each particular moment. Nick
Miller March 2023