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Amazing exhibitions to see in 2023
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Amazing exhibitions to see in 2023
Reader's Digest January 16, 2023

Looking for your next culture fix? Susan Gray explores the must-see exhibitions that need to be on your radar for the coming year. Soutine-Kossoff at Hastings Contemporary in East Sussex, running from April 1st to September 24th -- the first show to explore the relationship between Leon Kossoff, whose impasto (thickly applied paint) landscapes of post-war London are well known, and Paris trained artist Chaim Soutine. Kossoff discovered Soutine’s work in the 1950s and was greatly influenced by it. The two artists shared an Eastern European Jewish heritage, and both created transcendent works from the stuff of everyday life. Contains over 40 significant loans from collections in the UK and USA and beyond.

Presence as Abstraction, as Beguiling Obfuscation, in the Works of Leon Kossoff
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Presence as Abstraction, as Beguiling Obfuscation, in the Works of Leon Kossoff
Riot Material March 24, 2022

The first painting greeting us in the Mitchell-Innes & Nash exhibition is, aptly, a self portrait. Smaller than the other pieces in the show, monochromatic, it packs the power of dynamite. The man represented closeup looks aghast, terrified even. His eyes stare down with dismay at something off canvas, an abyss? Hell? Malleable, the face is agitated by a chaos of brushstrokes. The boundaries between the head and its surroundings are unclear, as if everything was made of the same substance: mud. Mud, here, is nicely symbolic not only for its biblical intimation — Man being dipped, thrown, trampled in and yanked from the “miry mud” — but the muddiness of mind is also equally appropriate. While his portraits often halted at an opacity in the sitter, Kossoff had a pretty good idea of what he was about: uncertain about everything. He could, he tells us, hold onto nothing solid, either on the outside or the inside. “The important thing is to somehow keep going. This is ‘the straw to which we cling.” This credo, shared in a rare interview, could serve as caption for all of his mature paintings.

Gallery chronicle
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Gallery chronicle
The New Criterion March 1, 2022

London modernism doesn’t get the same credit as its Paris or New York counterparts. That only means the work of the richly expressive painters of the London School—not just Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, but also Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, and R. B. Kitaj, among others—continues to surprise. “Leon Kossoff: A Life in Painting,” at New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash, provides a deep dive into the thick impasto of this British painter.1 Born in London in 1926, and focused on the lives of its working-class neighborhoods, Kossoff imparted the weight of experience in the thickness of his line and heaviness of his brush.

Editors’ Picks: 13 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week, From an Erotic Art Show to a Creative Match-Making Project
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Editors’ Picks: 13 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week, From an Erotic Art Show to a Creative Match-Making Project
artnet news February 15, 2022

A survey of paintings by the celebrated postwar British artist Leon Kossoff, who died in 2019, is timed to the publication of the Leon Kossoff: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings. On view are 16 paintings, ranging in date from the late 1950s to 2016. Kossoff was part of the “School of London,” a postwar movement that included artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Frank Auerbach. The show includes Kossoff’s main themes—family members, nudes, and London landscapes—which are at once poignant and mundane. The Mitchell-Innes and Nash show is part of a three-gallery effort and is the first posthumous and largest exhibition of Kossoff’s paintings in a commercial setting to date. Annely Juda organized a show in London in September, and L.A. Louver in Los Angeles has a concurrent exhibition through March 26.

Review: L.A. gallery-going during Omicron isn't optimal but offers excellent art along the way
Press
Review: L.A. gallery-going during Omicron isn't optimal but offers excellent art along the way
Los Angeles Times February 3, 2022

There was something unintentionally fitting about seeing Kossoff’s complex, sobering art under our currently disrupted circumstances. The show’s earliest painting, “Seated Woman” (1957), is a 5-foot-tall panel laden with pounds and pounds of thick, dark paint. Kossoff dragged his brush through the chocolate brown mud, exposing rich tones of purple, crimson and forest green buried within, literally carving out the linear form of a dozing figure, hands clasped in her lap, mouth a hooked slash.

Leon Kossoff: Looking at Life With a Loaded Brush
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Leon Kossoff: Looking at Life With a Loaded Brush
The New York Times February 3, 2022

Kossoff’s greatness lies in the extreme way he pits the two basic realities of painting — the actual paint surface and the image depicted — against each another. First there is the startlingly heavy, even off-putting, impasto of his oil paint, which sometimes seems more ladled on than conventionally applied with a brush (even a big one), and which gives his surfaces an almost topographical dimension. Then there is the reality of his images, initially swamped in paint, that ultimately battles its way to legibility through a process that thrillingly slows and extends the act of looking.

The Critics Notebook Art: Leon Kossoff
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The Critics Notebook Art: Leon Kossoff
The New Criterion January 25, 2022

“Leon Kossoff: A Life in Painting,” Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (through March 5): London modernism doesn’t always get the same credit as its Paris or New York counterparts. That means the richly expressive painters of the London School—not just Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, but also Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, R. B. Kitaj, and others—continue to surprise. This month at New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash, “Leon Kossoff: A Life in Painting” provides a deep dive into the thick impasto of the British painter Leon Kossoff (1926–2019). Born in London, and focusing on the lives of its working-class neighborhoods, Kossoff imparted the weight of experience in the thickness of his line and heaviness of his paint. This exhibition of sixteen works ranging from 1936 to 1993 is timed to the release of the 640-page Leon Kossoff: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings by Modern Art Press and is curated by its editor, Andrea Rose. A west-coast version of the exhibition also opens this week at California’s L.A. Louver gallery.

The Freedom to Recognize a Face
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The Freedom to Recognize a Face
Consecutive Matters January 25, 2022

We are born to recognize faces. But by 1969 Kossoff had worked on a number of portraits in which the faces never cohere (bodies, as figures, are easier to read, because more abstract to begin with). His Seated Woman (1957) is a good example. Self Portrait No. 1 from 1965 may be a better one. In this work, one can strain to make Kossoff’s or any face appear, but it would just be an affirmation of one’s own credulity, akin to seeing Jesus in a water stain or a slice of burnt toast.

December Book Bag: Ai Weiwei spills the beans, a short history of Black British art and all of Leon Kossoff’s paintings
Press
December Book Bag: Ai Weiwei spills the beans, a short history of Black British art and all of Leon Kossoff’s paintings
The Art Newspaper December 7, 2021

This long-awaited catalogue raisonné brings together the paintings of Leon Kossoff, one of the most important 20th-century British artists. Kossoff was part of the School of London along with other figurative painters including Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach. He returned to familiar subjects throughout his career, including London landmarks such as Christ Church Spitalfields and Kilburn underground station, creating numerous works inspired by Old Masters such as Nicolas Poussin. The author Andrea Rose curated Kossoff’s exhibition at the 1995 Venice Biennale when he represented Great Britain. “As part of the catalogue raisonnéproject, he gave her a level of access to him, his archive and his studios that, as an intensely private person, he had withheld from all others,” according to the publisher. An accompanying exhibition, which first opened at Annely Juda gallery in London, tours to Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York (13 January-5 March 2022) and L.A. Louver Gallery in California (26 January-26 March 2022).

Leon Kossoff
Press
Leon Kossoff
Artforum December 1, 2021

A key figure of the London School, Leon Kossoff (1926–2019) captures the life force of the British capital—his birthplace and lifelong muse—in all its dolorous splendor. Never has a palette perhaps best described as “shades of gloom” (the dried-blood reds and rusts of postwar Victorian tenements, the gray-brown murk of the Thames) seemed so vigorous.

Surveying six decades of production and organized together with Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York and L.A. Louver in Los Angeles, “A Life in Painting” opens with a series of Kossoff’s portraits. 

Leon Kossoff’s Art of Darkness and Light
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Leon Kossoff’s Art of Darkness and Light
Hyperallergic November 3, 2021

I was in the grip of despair. I had arrived to interview the artist Leon Kossoff at his home in Willesden, North London, for the Independent on Sunday, but when I arrived, after toiling long and hard uphill by bicycle, I found him to be profoundly unenthusiastic about the prospect. I explained to him that he had already agreed to talk to me, and that I had come all the way from South London. Finally, grudgingly, he let me slip, side-on, into the rather under-lit front hall — but only into the hall. 

Yes, he would do it, he said in the end, still havering, but he had never anticipated such consequences of having his work shown at the Tate and the Venice Biennale …. I soon discovered that this gentle, wary, vulnerable man of 75 possessed a will of steel.

Leon Kossoff, 92, Who Painted Portraits of Urban Life, Dies
by Roberta Smith
Leon Kossoff, 92, Who Painted Portraits of Urban Life, Dies
The New York Times July 22, 2019

Leon Kossoff, whose expressionistic portraits and images of urban life made him one of the most important painters of postwar Britain, died on July 4 in London. He was 92.

Press
The Financial Times
Leon Kossoff: Drawn In By The Old Masters October 10, 2014

'It's very private, this relationship with paintings, how they get inside your mind... When you are drawing a painting you see and experience it differently, your mind wakes up.' For most of his life, Leon Kossoff has been coming to London's National Gallery to study and sketch its Old Masters.  With some of these drawings about to go on show at Frieze Masters Jackie Wullschlager joins the artist for a tour of his favorite paintings.

Press
The Financial Times
Leon Kossoff: Drawn In By The Old Masters October 10, 2014

'It's very private, this relationship with paintings, how they get inside your mind... When you are drawing a painting you see and experience it differently, your mind wakes up.' For most of his life, Leon Kossoff has been coming to London's National Gallery to study and sketch its Old Masters.  With some of these drawings about to go on show at Frieze Masters Jackie Wullschlager joins the artist for a tour of his favorite paintings.

Press
Leon Kossoff: Drawing Paintings Catalogue
By Coline Milliard
Leon Kossoff: A Life Spent Looking at the City
Blouin Art + Auction November 2013

"Leon Kossoff has drawn and painted London relentlessly for more than six decades. Today, at 86, he can still be found sketching the street corners that have inspired him throughout his remarkable career.  London is "Kossoff's Venice, his city of vista and movement," wrote Andrea Rose in the catalogue for "London Landscapes," a major exhibition that she curated for the artist's four galleries--Annely Juda Fine Art in London, Galerie Lelong in Paris, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, where it is on view November 7 through December 21, before moving on to L..A. Louver in Los Angeles."

By Coline Milliard
Leon Kossoff: A Life Spent Looking at the City
Blouin Art + Auction November 2013

"Leon Kossoff has drawn and painted London relentlessly for more than six decades. Today, at 86, he can still be found sketching the street corners that have inspired him throughout his remarkable career.  London is "Kossoff's Venice, his city of vista and movement," wrote Andrea Rose in the catalogue for "London Landscapes," a major exhibition that she curated for the artist's four galleries--Annely Juda Fine Art in London, Galerie Lelong in Paris, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, where it is on view November 7 through December 21, before moving on to L..A. Louver in Los Angeles."

By Jackie Wullschlager
Financial Times
Leon Kossoff, Annely Juda Fine Art, London Published: November 5, 2010

Taking into account the slow, majestic pace at which he works, Leon Kossoff’s new solo show at Annely Juda in London, travelling next year to New York and California, may well be the last in his lifetime. Until Dec 17, www.annelyjudafineart.co.uk; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, May 5- June 18 2011; LA Louver, Venice, California, Sep 8-Oct 8 2011

Donald Kuspit
ARTFORUM
Leon Kossoff MITCHELL-INNES & NASH Summer 2009

Leon Kossoff's painterliness invites us to scan the image for subconscious meaning--to play on Anton Ehrenzweig's idea of the way we approach what he calls "gestalt free painting"--and the meaning we find involves what Freud called "primary process thinking," and traces of what D.W. Winnicott, elaborating and deepening Freud's idea, called "primary creativity," by which he meant the spontaneity innate to us all yet often stifled or channeled into trivial pursuits by society.  

By David Cohen
Artcritical
Leon Kossoff From the Early Years 1957-1967 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash March 2009

There is no getting away from the fact that Leon Kossoff's early paintings are deeply weird, "deeply" being the operative word. These works are more like some form of sculptural relief than painting per se – they are certainly as far as you can get, physically and theoretically, from Clement Greenberg's notion (contemporary with these works) of "ineluctable flatness."