RB Kitaj: Obsessions – Analyst for our Time at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 March 2013

Exhibition previews: RB Kitaj: Obsessions – Analyst for our Time, until June 16 2013; Laetitia Yhap: Fishermen of Hastings Stade, until April 7, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

An image of a colourful painting of various figures separated by lines across a board
RB Kitaj, Junta (1962). Oil and collage on canvas. Private Collection© RB Kitaj Estate
Reams could be added to the deluge already written about RB Kitaj’s demise. After his 1994 Tate show was attacked by critics – somewhat brutally, it is fair to say, in some quarters – the painter, whose wife died within two weeks of the opening, returned to America.

A photo of an abstract, multicoloured painting of figures on a beach under an orange sky
The Neo-Cubist (1976-1987). Oil on canvas© RB Kitaj Estate, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
His story from then until his suicide in 2007 is lengthily documented. But despite the overarching tragedy, Pallant’s exhibition of more than 50 paintings, sketches and prints should perhaps be recognised more for its emergence as the first major retrospective of his diverse career.

Kitaj was scholarly when it came to art history, creating brushwork and collages reflecting European politics, philosophy and literature, depicting David Hockney (his closest friend in art) and producing studies of the body and sexuality with names such as Self-Portrait as a Woman and The Sensualist.

In an exhibition running concurrently with the Jewish Museum and touring from its equivalent in Berlin, some of them, including a portrait of Philip Roth, called A Jew in Love, illustrate his later embrace of Judaism. It’s certain to be compelling, even if its underlying story is one to regret.

Laetitia Yhap, meanwhile, studied life drawing under another of Kitaj’s allies, Frank Auerbach, at Camberwell and Slade Schools of Art during the 1950s and 1960s.

She turned against figurative drawing for several years before her decision to portray an East Sussex fishing community. A selection of the drawings and paintings from the series, spanning 20 years, appear here.

  • Open 10am-5pm (8pm Thursday, 11am-5pm Sunday and Bank Holidays, closed Monday). Admission £3.50-£9 (family ticket £21.50). Follow the gallery on Twitter @PallantGallery.

More pictures:

An image of an abstract, multicoloured painting of a navy man at sea
Juan de la Cruz (1967). Oil on canvas© Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
An image of a brown, black and white drawing of various figures in a war situation
The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg (1960)© The Estate of RB Kitaj, Tate, London 2012
An image of an abstract painting of various female figures bathing next to a pool
The Rise of Fascism, 1979-1980, Pastel, charcoal and oil on paper© The Estate of RB Kitaj, Tate, London 2012
An image of a colourful drawing of various figures working in a fishing community
Laetitia Yhap, Afternoon Heatwave, Summer (1976)© Laetitia Yhap
An image of a colourful drawing of a man, woman and dog sitting next to a boat
Laetitia Yhap, The Propellor (1983-4)© Laetitia Yhap, courtesy Piers Feetham Gallery
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