The Mystery of Appearance: Leon Kossoff

This is the one I disliked the most at the Mystery of Appearance at the Haunch of Venison. In fact, it was the only one I really disliked, indifference is much more likely.

The reason I dislike this painting is that it is made quite brutally and is meant to be a depiction of a seated woman. Does he hate this woman so much that he paints her like this?

In forming the shapes of the body, it’s pretty vague, to the point that it looks like it might be a Cyclops but not in an interesting way. This is made much worse but the fact that the lighting didn’t highlight the contours of the oil paint, so the shapes were much less clear than you can see in this photo. By taking the photo I could make out the shapes of the body – from the painting itself, I couldn’t, and neither could other viewers – I asked. Kossoff makes it difficult for the viewer to work out what they are looking at. This could be a good thing if there was any sort of reward from it – the only reward is an ugly Cyclops.

The one good thing about this painting is the technique of sculpting the paint on the page. This however was done more successfully in Kossoff’s other paintings where he used more variation of colour. I didn’t find them interesting though, the idea of the technique was translated adequately through this one, so seeing the others didn’t teach me much new except that it could be done without being as ugly.

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