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Fischer Fine Art, Ltd., London
Charles Saatchi, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1980s
Oxford, Museum of Modern Art; Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Leon Kossoff: Paintings from a Decade 1970 - 1980, May 24 - August, 30, 1981, no. 41, p. 39 (illustrated)
Aachen, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst; Kunstverein Mannheim; Chur, Bündner Kunstmuseum; Kunstverein Braunschweig, 13 British Artists: A Painting Exhibition, December 5, 1981 - September 9, 1982, p. 51 (illustrated)
New Delhi, Lalit Kala Akademi; Mumbai, Jehangir Nicholson Museum of Modern Art, The Proper Study, December 1, 1984 - February 28, 1985, no. 37, p. 99 (illustrated)
London, Tate Gallery, Leon Kossoff, June 6 - September 1, 1996, no. 37, p. 99 (illustrated)
"The fabric of my work through the last forty years has been dependent on those people who have so patiently sat for me, each one uniquely transforming my space by their presence." Leon Kossoff
Executed in 1980, Two seated Figures no.1 (My Parents) is a seemingly intimate and poignant portrait of Leon Kossoff's aging parents. Kossoff’s brushwork and application of medium have always stood as defining characteristics of his work, and here his typically thick impasto lends the painting an impressive physical immediacy. Drawing is an essential, an obsessive and indispensable aspect of his practice. Kossoff always begins his paintings with an exploration of the subject through life-drawing. This initial impression is the only method of truly conveying what he sees, feels and perceives from his sitters. Maintaining the same reality of feeling that is reflected in his drawing or sketches, Kossoff's paintings have the same immediacy as his preparatory works on paper. His achievements in drawing translate elegantly into the paintings Kossoff made of his family, illustrating the heartfelt familial relation between sitters and artist. However, upon further scrutiny the viewer begins to understand that while this is a depiction of the artist’s parents, Kossoff’s depiction of them informs the viewer more generally about Kossoff’s understanding of the effects of time, love and age than it does about the individual natures of his parents.
Included in two travelling exhibitions organized by The British Council as well as in the artist’s defining retrospective at the Tate, Two seated Figures no. 1 (My Parents) is a stunning example of the poignancy and beauty that is inherent to the work of Leon Kossoff. The earth-bound mortality of his parents is manifested throughout the swirling arcs of paint, and the skeins of tonality that envelope the composition. All of Kossoff’s painterly technique and draftsman’s eye for the immediate are on prominent display in this superb painting, Two seated Figures no. 1 (My Parents).
New York Auction 8 May 2016