In 1922, Hitchens began exhibiting with the 7 & 5 society in London. This group of artists was founded in 1919 and was initially conservative in outlook, intending to promote a 'return to order' following the First World War. However, shortly after Hitchens became a member, the group was joined by modernist artists Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and later John Piper. This avant-garde contingent effectively appropriated the society and expelled members with a more traditional artistic ideology. Hitchens embraced the ideas on artistic abstraction advocated by his fellow members and during the 1920s his mature style began to develop.
During the 1920s and '30s Hitchens lived and worked Hampstead, within the avant-garde circle known as the London Group. This incorporated members of the 7 & 5 society as well as prestigious artists such as Naum Gabo and Paul Nash. However, he and his wife were compelled to leave London in 1940 after a bomb landed next door to his studio. They moved to a caravan on a patch of woodland called Greenleaves near Petworth in West Sussex.
Hitchens spent the next forty years at Greenleaves, deeply absorbed by and involved in the countryside around him. Detached from the currents of British modernism, he was able to develop his style freely. Hitchens was particularly inspired by the modern French masters, especially the Fauves. Like them, Hitchens was more concerned with portraying the sensations of nature than nature itself. His broad canvases allow a panoramic experience of the smells, colours and textures of his surroundings. His characteristic manner involves sweeps, dabs and blocks of colour applied with broad brushes and often set against a bare white ground. Although apparently applied with spontaneous energy his compositions retain a harmony of form and colour that is always pleasing.
There is a huge mural by him in the main hall of Cecil Sharp House. His work was exhibited at the British Pavilion in the 1956 Venice Biennale, and today, his paintings are in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Courtauld Institute in London, among others.
Ivon’s son John Hitchens and grandson Simon Hitchens are both artists.
Hitchens died on August 29, 1979 in Petworth, United Kingdom.
Works by this artist…
Tulips No 1, 1969( ref : 14641 )