Archived exhibition
4th Floor Gallery

Leon Kossoff
Recent Paintings

28 October–17 December 2010

A major exhibition of 27 recent paintings and drawings by leading British artist Leon Kossoff will be held at Annely Juda Fine Art in London opening on 28 October 2010.  

The exhibition is the first solo show of Kossoff to be held in a London gallery for nearly a decade and is the artist’s first major exhibition in London since the Drawing from Painting exhibition at the National Gallery in 2007. 

Kossoff (b.1926) is one of Britain’s greatest living artists.  He continues to paint scenes of London as one of his abiding subjects – such as Hawksmoor’s Christchurch, Spitalfields, which is represented in the exhibition by three major works.    

Central to the exhibition are depictions of a single cherry tree in a Willesden garden that Kossoff had viewed for years. When the tree began to lean, the decision was made to buttress it with two wooden stakes, rather than let it fall to decay.   It is in this rather poignant form that it became the focus of the body of work, both painted and drawn.  It once must have belonged to a larger orchard, before the surrounding gardens were built, and in its singular form displays both strength and dignity.   As with so much of Kossoff’s work, the paintings’ resonance comes from the artist’s ability to render a very personal response to the long, careful and considered observation of his subjects, which at the same time are able to communicate rather universal sentiments. These recent paintings are a revelation – still impregnated with the paint and rich brushwork that have come to define Kossoff, they are gentle in tone and palette and are particularly atmospheric. 

A group of portrait heads representing three studio models he has returned to for years (John, Peggy and Fidelma), are marked by tenderness and are captivating in their quietude.

Leon Kossoff has written about these paintings as follows:
 “These paintings are about one tree.  A cherry tree in a garden that may have been part of an orchard before the nearby house was built.  One large bough was deteriorating and should have been removed.  Instead, we decided to support it with stakes.  Though it took some time to become used to the stakes, as time passed the staked tree seemed to have always been there.  The subject, so different from the work I had been engaged with at Christchurch, became part of my working life.”