press release

Pallant House Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), one of the leading modernist artists in England who was celebrated for his vibrant landscape paintings.

This in-focus exhibition, drawn predominantly from Pallant House Gallery’s extensive holdings of work by the artist, explores Hitchens’ close affiliation with the Sussex landscape and considers how music played a significant role in his creative process.

The Sussex landscape has proved a source of inspiration for artists throughout the centuries, from William Blake and JMW Turner in the 18th and 19th centuries to Graham Sutherland, Duncan Grant, and Eric Ravilious in the 20th century. And yet no other artist in the modern period has been so closely associated with the area than Ivon Hitchens.

Living in Hampstead, London, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hitchens would embark on expeditions outside the capital to paint and regularly visited Sussex including the Midhurst and Pulborough areas. But after the Blitz in 1940, when Hitchens’ studio was destroyed, the artist was to permanently relocate with his wife and baby son to Lavington Common, near Petworth, leaving the artistic community of Hampstead behind to develop a highly personal artistic language in the relative seclusion and tranquillity of Sussex. In Sussex, Hitchens’ work responded directly to the shapes and forms of the landscape in a semi abstract style, suggesting season, mood, and atmosphere within the texture of his paintings. In Sussex, he wrote of how his new, ‘more settled life with permanent roots in this soil, has led to a deeper search for the more abstract elements of a given subject.’

Music was Hitchens’ other great influence and proved a significant part of the artist’s creative process. Hitchens’ wrote of the subject, ‘I often find in music a stimulus to creation, and it is the linear, tonal and colour harmony and rhythm of nature which interests me – what I call the ‘musical appearance of things.’

By concentrating on the relationships between form, colour and line, Hitchens aimed to guide the viewer’s eye over his canvases on a rhythmic journey in much the same way as the ear responds to the unfolding of a piece of music. As the artist wrote in his ‘Notes on Painting’, ‘My pictures are painted to be listened to’.

only in german

Ivon Hitchens