Monday 15 December 2014

Indian Waves, Howard Hodgkin

Indian Waves by Howard Hodgkin, Gagosian Gallery, London. (image from the gallery's website).
Thirty gouaches painted by Hodgkin between 1990 and 1991 which were inspired by India were brought to light recently. Hodgkin said he had forgotten all about this series until they were sent to him in brown paper wrapping earlier this year. 'When I did see them properly I felt very happy. I'm very pleased'. We saw eight in this exhibition.
Using handmade Indian Khadi paper, Hodgkin employed the carborundum printing technique for the first stage, in readiness for the next stage of handpainting. Beginning with the same foundation - a blue wavy line that fills the lower half of each sheet with an arc of green above - he then used a vibrant palette of cadmium red and yellow, rose, orange, black, white and Veronese green.
Although often termed as abstract, Hodgkin describes his work as representational of emotional situations. This very modern view has its roots in the end of the 19th century when painting was revolutionised, when a new era began and modern art was born. It was first held by Gauguin who believed that colour could act like words; that it held an exact counterpart for every emotion, every nuance of feeling. That painting should be seen first as ordered patches on a flat blank surface. Its task was not to describe but to express.
Seamus Heaney once said that Hodgkin celebrates what Dylan Thomas called the 'force that through the green fuse drives the flower'.






  1. These are glorious! What a delightful surprise it must have been for Hodgkin to have these pieces sent to him out of the blue. The colours of the gouache astonish me - they are so much more vibrant than I would have expected for that medium - but of course so thoroughly Hodgkin!

    1. It was a real pleasure seeing such brilliant colour, Olga. A real delight.