Howard Hodkgin, From Memory, 2014–15, oil on wood, 27 7/8 × 33 1/8 inches (70.8 × 84.1 cm) © Howard Hodgkin. Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.
In exploring the very nature of painting both as cultured language and sheer expression, Hodgkin disregards the classical polarities of abstraction and representation, past and present, canvas and frame. Assertive compressed gestures, sweeping complex textures, a lush palette, and the dynamic interchange of light and dark are all traits of his distinctive signature. With their maximalist gestures and saturated colors, his more intimately scaled paintings appear jewel-like, while larger works are opulent and theatrical. With incorporated frames and painted wooden supports, they operate as both objects and images. Embracing spontaneity and directness in equal measure to the processes of reflection and capitulation, it may take a year for Hodgkin to prepare to execute a single brushstroke. The seemingly casual, urgent quality of his paintings belies the fact that most of them have been worked on for two or three years. More than ever they convey the relationship between hand, eye, and memory that drives their process, visual structure, and emotional temperature.
Howard Hodgkin was born in 1932 in London. He attended Camberwell School of Art, England, from 1949 to 1950, and Bath Academy of Art, England, from 1950 to 1954. His first retrospective was curated by Nicholas Serota at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, in 1976. Since then, major museum exhibitions include “Paintings 1975 to 1995,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1995, traveled to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Kunstverein für die Reinlände und Westfalen, Germany; and Hayward Gallery, London, through 1996); “Howard Hodgkin Large Paintings,” Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland (2002); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006, traveled to Tate Britain, London; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, through 2007); “Paintings: 1992–2007,” Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut (2007, traveled to Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, England); “Royal Elephants from Moghul India: Paintings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin,” Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2010); “Time and Place,” Modern Art Oxford, United Kingdom (2010, traveled to De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, The Netherlands; and San Diego Museum of Art, California, through 2011); Fondation Bemberg, France (2013); and “Made in Mumbai,” Curator’s Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai (2016). Hodgkin was knighted in 1992, awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Hamburg in 1997, and made a Companion of Honor in 2003.
Hodgkin currently lives and works in London.