Howard Hodgkin, “Saturday. 2005-2008,” oil on wood, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
Howard Hodgkin, “Snow Cloud,” 2009-2010, oil on wood. Collection of Monica and Peter Lund, Oslo.
Through May 1st the San Diego Museum is hosting “Howard Hodgkin: Time and Place,” an exhibition of more than twenty paintings by 79-year-old Sir Howard, renowned for his vivid emo-colorist approach. Hodgkin has called his seductively louche paintings “representational pictures of emotional situations.” Co-organized by Modern Art Oxford, De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, and The San Diego Museum, the show presents several panels painted in the past year. In Art Forum Leora Maltz-Leca writes that Hodgkin’s paintings create a view inward, or a glimpse of the back of the mind.
Hodgkin’s recent concerns orbit around his varied manipulations of painterly supports: unconventional plywood surfaces, paintings made in flea-market frames, and endless riffs on framing as a delimitation of material and conceptual territories. Rather than evincing the overblown critical rhetoric around mnemonic recollections and painterly reconstitutions of emotional events, Hodgkin’s work wrestles with the confines of abstraction. ..
Increasingly unprimed, often dazzlingly striated, Hodgkin’s plywood veneers shape the rippling logic of a work like “Snake,” 2006–2008, where a serpentine stroke of cadmium red light wobbles across a grainy field, surrounded by the artist’s signature dabs—jaunty red markings that read like oily kisses on the wood—and several concentric painted borders, all bounded by a hefty wooden frame, mounted backwards so that its pocked reverse faces out. Once more painting on the rear of found supports, the artist turns his back on his audience—and invites them to do the same: creating not a vista outward, but a view inward, or a glimpse of the back of the mind. In this art of slow brushstrokes and long pauses, Hodgkin hails his viewers as oriented, grounded participants, provocatively nudging their sense-making impulses with abstract images foiled by deceptively deictic titles such as “Spring Rain,” 2000–2002; “Lawn,” 2009; and “Blood,” 2005–2010.
Howard Hodgkin in conversation with Andrew Graham-Dixon at Modern Art Oxford last summer. Running time: About an hour.
“Howard Hodgkin: Time and Place,” co-organized by Modern Art Oxford, De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, and The San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA. Through May 1, 2011. Catalog available here: Howard Hodgkin: Time and Place