Take a fresh look at one of Britain’s most admired modern artists, whose paintings brought continental colour to the English landscape.
Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) is much-loved for his landscape paintings featuring swathes of bright colour, many painted in the open air surrounding his secluded Sussex home. Yet there is more to the artist than the post-war work for which he is best known. This exhibition, the largest on Hitchens since 1989, considers the whole scope of the British painter’s career, which spanned a remarkable six decades.
Hitchens was a progressive artist in the 1920s and 1930s. He was one of the earliest members of the experimental Seven and Five Society alongside Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He also tapped into what was happening on the continent, particularly in France. Whilst looking to Cèzanne and Matisse in particular, Hitchens chose to focus on the subject matter right in front of him – the landscapes of Sussex, as well as flower paintings, interiors and studies of the nude and of family members.
His retreat from London to Sussex at the outset of the Second World War gave rise to an extraordinary body of paintings that were international in spirit despite being rooted in the English landscape. During this time he painted repeatedly at his home near Petworth, and at surrounding locations in the South Downs – Heyshott, Didling and Iping Common in particular. The last decade of his life saw a heightening of his palette, as he spent more and more time at his holiday coastal cottage at Selsey.
This exhibition of over 70 works provides a once in a generation opportunity to consider one of Britain’s most enduringly popular modern painters in a whole new light.