Magazine article Artforum International

Howard Hodgkin

Magazine article Artforum International

Howard Hodgkin

Article excerpt

BERNARD JACOBSON GALLERY

The fifteen prints in Howard Hodgkin's "Views"--as this exhibition was titled--invite comparison with the work of Matisse, an influence the artist has acknowledged. (The ten lithographs, two screenprints, and three etchings with aquatint traveled from the gallery's London location, where the show debuted this past March.) In Lotus, 1980, and other works, Hodgkin uses an interior frame, suggestively a window frame, as Matisse did in The Open Window, 1905, and View of Notre Dame, 1914. Yet Matisse depicted readily recognizable objects, figures, and scenes; Hodgkin, by contrast, produces imagery that is significantly more abstract. He looks into himself even as he looks outward. The world that Hodgkin pictures through windows becomes his inner world--a sort of inscape (to use poet Gerard Manley Hopkins's word) within the landscape.

These views are always rather moody. Hodgkin mixes colors, often primaries, and shapes, both organic and geometrically pure, to lyrically dramatic effect, as in Red Listening Ear and Blue Listening Ear, both 1986. (I wildly associated these works with the Freudian psychoanalyst Theodor Reik's Listening with the Third Ear [1948]; that is, the inner ear.) Almost always there is an aura of both hedonism and melancholy. Perhaps the most plangent piece is For Bernard Jacobson, 1977-79, named for the purveyor of this gallery, who supported the production of many of the prints that were on view. In that work, bright blue and yellow are nearly enveloped in blackness. …

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