Foliage by Water no 3 1962
Signed lower right signed dated & inscribed on stretcher label
Oil on canvas
17 1/2 x 58 1/4 in : 44 x 148 cm

Exhibited Tate Gallery Retrospective 1963 no 152

This painting and six others of the same subject were shown together at the
Tate retrospective of Hitchens’ work in 1963. They hung in the last room and
one wonders how many visitors, having already seen one hundred and fifty exhibits, will have had the patience and stamina to compare and contrast
these latest masterworks. Yet here was a rare opportunity to study Hitchens’ method, appreciate his aims, and marvel at his inventiveness.
Of the entire series of twelve paintings no 3 is the most daringly economical. The two competing focuses of interest are the sweeping arc on the left and the partially obscured blue diamond on the right. But even as one contemplates these simple geometries, the flat screens of colour, superimposed on one another, create space and recession: the arc becomes a tree-bordered
shoreline; in the background rises the barrier of a forest plantation; and above are the pale blue, thinly clouded skies of spring. A smaller arc, over the blue diamond, echoes the larger and sets up a rhythm. By such seemingly simple gestures Hitchens recreates his experience of a particular landscape while at the same time constructing an independently satisfying pattern on the canvas. Holding the two in equilibrium is Hitchens’ magical secret and the secret of the painting’s perennial freshness and mystery. Peter Khoroche