In 1980 Patrick Procktor became the first European artist to visit communist China. Since the Cultural Revolution in 1966, no Western artist had been granted permission to visit or travel in the country. Forbidden City, Peking is one of eight prints that make up Procktor's The China Series portfolio. Collectively, the prints depict renowned places of beauty in modern day Beijing, Guilin, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou.
By contrasting bold calligraphy-like black strokes with subtle variations of colour on pale backgrounds, Procktor's prints evoke the style of traditional Chinese painting. In this image Procktor has used the red pillars in the foreground as compositional devices which frame the background. In the distance is a view of the Imperial Palace complex, its yellow roof tiles catching glimpses of sunlight. By viewing the rooftops from a distance, Procktor hints at the hidden courtyards, pavilions and residential quarters behind the formidable towering and impenetrable walls.
Patrick Procktor was born in Dublin and raised in London and Brighton. From 1954 to 1956 he was conscripted into the Royal Navy as a student of the Russian language. He subsequently visited Russia three times as an interpreter and worked as an art broadcaster for the BBC Russian Service. He was a student at the Slade School of Art in London from 1958 to 1962 where he excelled, winning numerous prizes and travel scholarships. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1996. Patrick Procktor died in London in August 2003.
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