PREVIEW: Leonard Rosoman – Painting Theatre

In spring 2018, Pallant House Gallery will hold an exhibition exploring the influence of the theatre on British painter Leonard Rosoman R.A (1913 – 2012).

Leonard Rosoman, The Drag Ball, No. 2 (detail), 1968

Leonard Rosoman, The Drag Ball, No. 2, 1968

Experience John Osborne’s controversial play A Patriot for Me through the eyes of British painter Leonard Rosoman RA (1913 – 2012) in a series of works not shown together since the 1970s.

Part of the Royal Academy’s 250th birthday celebrations, this is the first museum show of Rosoman’s work for over 30 years.

The exhibition centres around the artist’s response to seeing John Osborne’s controversial play A Patriot for Me, which was banned for its homosexual content in 1965.

The play is based on the true story of the disgraced Austro-Hungarian army officer, Colonel Redl. Key to the exhibition are two large scale paintings depicting the infamous Drag Ball scene, one of the primary reasons the play was so controversial.

Leonard Rosoman, The Drag Ball, No. 2, 1968

Leonard Rosoman, The Drag Ball, No. 2, 1968

The exhibition celebrates Rosoman’s post-war narrative paintings, in particular sixteen works from his extraordinary series based on John Osborne’s controversial play ‘A Patriot for Me’, not exhibited together since the 1970s.

Conveying the “claustrophobic, sometimes savage, atmosphere” of the play, this series also captured a moment in time when attitudes towards sexuality and censorship were on the cusp of change.

At the time, the critical response to these paintings, exhibited both in New York (at the Lincoln Centre) and in London, was muted and since the late sixties, aside from the showing of a small selection at the Fine Art Society in 1974, they have not been seen.

This exhibition is the first major museum show of Rosoman’s work in 30 years and is part of a nationwide programme celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA).


Event: Leonard Rosoman: Painting Theatre

Where: Pallant House, 9 N Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TJ

When: February 3 – April 29, 2018

Time: Opening hours: Mondays closed; Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm; Thursday 10am – 8pm; Sunday/Bank Holidays 11am – 5pm

Cost: Adults £11, children free for more information on prices click here:

Pallant House Gallery is located in the heart of historic Chichester on the south coast, and houses one of the most significant collections of Modern British art in the country. Acclaimed for its innovative exhibitions and exemplary Learning and Community programme, the Gallery has won numerous awards since re-opening in 2006. www.pallant.org.uk.

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