Opening at Hastings Contemporary in April 2023, Soutine / Kossoff pairs two major figures of 20th-century painting: one a master of the School of Paris, the other a master of the School of London.
Soutine / Kossoff is the first ever museum exhibition to explore the artistic relationship between British artist Leon Kossoff (1926-2019) and Belarus-born painter Chaim Soutine (1893-1943).
Undertaken with the full support of the Kossoff estate, it brings together around 40 important loans from public and private collections in the UK, USA and beyond. Aside from Soutine Portraits ( exhibition at the Courtauld, 2017) at around 20 works, this is the largest group of Soutines shown together in UK since 1982, and the first since then to show both portraits and landscapes, providing a fascinating follow-up to the Barnes Foundation’s 2021 show Soutine / De Kooning.
The discovery of Soutine’s paintings in the early 1950s was a significant moment for Kossoff, who was already finding his way towards the kind of direct and expressive use of paint he saw in his predecessor’s work.
Soutine grew up in Belarus before migrating to Paris as a young man, while Kossoff was born and raised in London, his parents having arrived there from Ukraine as children. Although their life experiences were very different, the two artists shared an Eastern European Jewish heritage which perhaps brought a particular cultural sensibility to their work. To create transcendent works from the stuff of everyday life became Kossoff’s mission, as it had been Soutine’s.
The main focus of Soutine / Kossoff is on the areas of interest shared by both artists: landscape and portraiture. The exhibition features seminal landscapes painted by Soutine in southern France in the early 1920s, with highlights including Paysage aux cyprès (c.1922), and Cagnes Landscape with Tree (c.1925-26, Tate). From Kossoff come major paintings of railway junctions, building sites and other scenes of unexpected beauty found in north and north-west London, among them Willesden Junction, Summer, No.2, (1966, Alfred East Art Gallery) and Demolition of the Old House, Dalston Junction, Summer (1974, Tate).
Visitors will have a rare opportunity to view Kossoff’s stunning Nude on a Red Bed, November – December 1972 alongside works such as his powerful Seated Woman (1957). A major group of Soutine portraits includes Le Petit Pâtissier (c.1927), Young Woman in a White Blouse (c.1923, Courtauld Institute) and Le Valet de Chambre (c.1927).
A publication accompanies the exhibition which runs from April 1 – September 24 2023