March 23, 2008

The nakedly emotional bravura of Howard Hodgkin

Alan Hollinghurst writes in The Guardian that Howard Hodgkin, now in his 70s, continues to make reckless,unanswerably new paintings."In many of his paintings, Hodgkin famously works with a found frame, which is then lavishly painted over. They intoxicate by being all paint, and even on the smallest scale can overwhelm you with their refusal of conventional distance and distraction. But increasingly now he is leaving the bare board clear, as the ground of the painting itself, and as the margin in which the business of the picture raggedly stops or starts. Your attention is still drawn to the means and the medium, but in a different way....You always want to get close to a Hodgkin. The sensory, sometimes visceral impact of a painting when first seen is followed by a long, evolving negotiation with it, a move into intimate reverie and speculation. The marks he makes, often with a large brush heavily laden with different-coloured paints, are among the great virtuosities of modern art. Their immediacy and bravura strike you from across a room, but as you get closer and closer they draw you in to what seem little landscapes in themselves, yielding up greater and greater riches, and even giving a slightly hallucinatory sense of their being other paintings within the painting, a sort of dreamlike double take. Instinct and spontaneity are at one with inexpressible mystery." Read more.

"Howard Hodgkin," Gagosian Gallery, London. April 3-May 17.

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