I’ve been soaking up Howard Hodgkin’s paintings and discovering more about his views on colour and representation. He vehemently states that he is not an abstract painter, he is clear that his works are grounded in a specific moment and that his job is to convey the emotion of that point in time. His denial of the abstract and colourist position seems to stem from an overriding concern for recognition as a serious artist, his dislike of the adjective beautiful to describe his work due to the negative association that beautiful has in regards to importance. Everything about his working practices, and the fact that he has not been filmed at work for several decades emphasises a painter of profound meticulousness and consequence.
I love the idea that his work is portraying experience in a way other than the literal, going beyond and deeper than words. In the “Imagine” film about Hodgkin from 2006 Julian Barnes talks about his inability to express the affect that the Hodgkin painting that he owns has on him, calling it “furiously emotional.” This, for me, is the appeal of colour, the ability that it has to strongly express the inexpressible…the power and the magic it possesses to recreate and glimpse past moments in the present. More importantly perhaps the weight, significance and memory that such glimpses elicit. Fascinating art from a fascinating man.