In the late 1950s, Hitchens returned to a higher level of abstraction in his landscape painting. Water and Willows is a strong example of his output at this time. Here, Hitchens embodies his use of the white ground to isolate forms in the composition and liberate colour from representation. When discussing his work from this period, Hitchens stated that ‘the white areas or lines of white canvas are to provide channels isolating areas of paint so that these can be felt relatively to each other in their shape, area, weight and meaning, one to another, in colour opposition, or gradation, movement of hue, or temperature, i.e. warm to cool (or vice versa), light to dark (or vice versa), or just echo to echo. The intention is that the spectator’s eye can travel along these areas ‘from floe to floe’, over the picture surface instead of being engulfed or drowned in a morass of paint representing or aping realism. (I. Hitchens quoted in P. Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, Aldershot, 2007, p. 120).
We are very grateful to Peter Khoroche and John Hitchens for their assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.