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Hitchens’s work of the 1950s stretches the balance between painterly abstraction and representation of the visible world. Here, the forms and spaces of the woodland are translated into an abstract surface design, yet the picture equally captures the movement of light and shadow, the wind through trees, the textures of moss and soil. Heron wrote: ‘every statement [Hitchens] makes on the canvas is wrenched direct from Nature. The visual scene is always his point of departure....To no other painter do Cézanne’s precepts still apply more aptly: I mean that Hitchens may truly be said to be “realising his sensations before Nature”.’

May 2007