Art Space Gallery is proud to announce the first solo exhibition of Leon Kossoff’s unique prints
Inspired by the paintings in the National Gallery’s permanent collection, these etchings and drypoints are unusual in several ways, not least in the fact that they are all unique prints. Instead of making an edition of an image, Kossoff has opted to make each print different by adjusting it before it goes through the press - wiping the plate for different strengths and absences of ink, varying the intensities of line and tone. Thus, although there are multiple images from every plate, each one is substantially different from all the others. This extremely subtle manipulation of the values of an image results in a range of expression far beyond what is usually expected of etchings, a range which approaches the painterly in its richness.
Kossoff works with the painter and printer Ann Dowker to achieve this formidable variety of mark and expression, and together they explore the remarkable potential within agiven plate. Kossoff is celebrated for his draughtsmanship, and has himself admitted ‘I think of everything I do as a form of drawing’, and yet his international reputation rests on his skill as a painter. In this exhibition we are shown clearly how his graphic shorthand is informed and balanced by a painterly sensibility, both of which work together to produce art of the highest order of originality.
Kossoff has spent a lifetime meditating on past art and enjoys a close relationship with certain Old Masters. He has long conducted a dialogue with the past by making drawings and prints of favourite paintings, whether by Rembrandt, Cézanne or Titian. In the late 1990s he concentrated on Poussin and exhibited a series of paintings, drawings and editioned etchings which were the fruit of his response. This exhibition spreads the net wider, showing unique prints made after Rubens and Velazquez, Degas and Constable, Veronese and Rembrandt, as well as his beloved Poussin.
Two processes are at work in these images: the technical adventure of the printing and the investigation of the original work. In these versions of famous paintings, Kossoff re-discovers structures and strategies of his own echoed and extended by artists of the past. Through the interplay of mass, space and line, he summons a vividness of looking that gloriously reaffirms the great tradition of Western figurative art. Continuity balances experiment, and with Kossoff constantly refreshing his eye by drawing from life, the potent immediacy of the prints is maintained.
An exhibition devoted to prints is a rare event in Kossoff’s career, and several works here will be shown for the first time. Those familiar only with his paintings and drawings will be in for a surprise: Kossoff breaks new ground in the subtlety of interpretation in these aptly-named unique prints.
A 34 page fully illustrated catalogue is available.