Painting Patrick

Patrick is Douglas MacDiarmid’s partner of many decades, his other half who has taken care of day to day distractions to make it possible for Douglas to single-mindedly focus on painting.

Eight years younger than Douglas, Patrick goes by just one name, like most Guadeloupeans. They grow closer as each year passes and complement one another in their differences. While Douglas grew up in a comfortable, highly cultured family in small town New Zealand, Patrick came from a poor Caribbean village in the French West Indies. One cut his teeth on hardship; the other resisted his upbringing. They both escaped to Paris, created new lives and found one another in the late 1960s.

Portraits of Patrick

There was an immediate spark when first they met, and very soon Douglas painted the beautiful man who had come into his life, the first of a number of portraits of his companion.

As Dr Nelly Finet relates in her 2002 art history MacDiarmid, Patrick is seated in front of a painted landscape which could be Guadeloupe or elsewhere.

“There is forcefulness in his attitude and decision in the hand at rest along the arm. He is not smiling, and his gravity suggests basic integrity. The wide eyes reveal a watchful spirit without compromise – just too bad about social conventions tainted with hypocrisy.”

This portrait is also distinctive for its texture, the oils mixed with fine Fontainebleau sand used for filtering in laboratory apparatus, to give a certain granular quality.

Portrait of Patrick (1973) by Douglas MacDiarmid, oil on canvas 92 x 60cm. From the artist's personal collection.
Portrait of Patrick (1973) by Douglas MacDiarmid, oil on canvas 92 x 60cm.

There’s nothing solemn in this joyful holiday portrait as Patrick shows off his stunning physique and style, dancing in a sunny sea landscape. Life is indeed a beach.

Patrick dancing at beach (1973) by Douglas MacDiarmid, oil on canvas.
Patrick dancing at beach (1973) by Douglas MacDiarmid, oil on canvas.

Here the primary colours dramatically heighten the sense of playfulness and well-being. Douglas capturing Patrick in a whirl of impulsive energy.

“A black man chasing white birds at the beach!” recalls Douglas. “That was a marvellous holiday at Le Touquet on the English Channel. We were up quite early most days, out on the beach often completely naked at that time of morning and the sea was out a long way over wet sand flats.”

Patrick a la plage (1979) by Douglas MacDiarmid
Patrick a la plage (1979) by Douglas MacDiarmid

Douglas celebrated Patrick’s 80th birthday in November 2010 in perfect painterly fashion. This portrait simply lights up a room, the wide smile, the luminous grapefruit in hand, a study of a happy man remarkably still looking half his years.

Ripeness is all 2010 by Douglas MacDiarmid, acrylic
Ripeness is all (2010) by Douglas MacDiarmid, acrylic.

These paintings from his personal collection, Paris, are reproduced with Patrick’s proud permission.

Visit our shop to buy a copy of MacDiarmid by Dr Nelly Finet from the MacDiarmid Arts Trust.

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