New York

Leon Kossoff

Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

Leon Kossoff’s painterliness invites us to scan the image for subconscious meaning—to play on Anton Ehrenzweig’s idea of the way we approach what he calls “gestalt-free painting”—and the meaning we find involves what Freud called “primary process thinking,” and traces of what D. W. Winnicott, elaborating and deepening Freud’s idea, called “primary creativity,” by which he meant the spontaneity innate to us all yet often stifled or channeled into trivial pursuits by society. As shown in “Leon Kossoff: From the Early Years 1957–1967,” a miniretrospective of choice works, there’s nothing trivial let alone light in Kossoff’s touch: Dense and manic, his marks often have a textural autonomy that not only lifts them out of the image they inform—and at times squash into incoherence—but gives them pugnacious authority.

“London, like the paint I use, seems to be in my bloodstream,” Kossoff writes,

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