HOWARD HODGKIN (1932-2017)
HOWARD HODGKIN (1932-2017)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
HOWARD HODGKIN (1932-2017)

Bombay Afternoon

HOWARD HODGKIN (1932-2017)
Bombay Afternoon
signed, titled and dated 'BOMBAY AFTERNOON 2016 Howard Hodgkin' (on the reverse)
oil on wood
34 1⁄4 x 43in. (87 x 109.2cm.)
Executed in 2016
Gagosian Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Hong Kong, Gagosian Gallery, Howard Hodgkin, In the Pink, 2017, p. 32, no. 14 (illustrated in colour, p. 33, detail illustrated in colour, pp. 34-35).
London, Gagosian Gallery, Howard Hodgkin, Last Paintings, 2018, p. 97, no. 24 (illustrated in colour, p. 75).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Painted in the penultimate year of Howard Hodgkin’s life, Bombay Afternoon (2016) is a vivid, fiery eruption of feeling. Broad, blazing strokes of red, orange and yellow flare out from a dark centre, spilling over onto the work’s broad wooden frame: the brushed textures graze and rhyme with the raised surface of the woodgrain. As its title indicates, the painting refers to a specific setting. Alongside Venice, Naples and other places meaningful to the artist, Bombay recurs as a motif in Hodgkin’s practice, its nights, dawns and sunsets infusing each work with a distinct chromatic mood. While heatedly atmospheric, however, Bombay Afternoon stops short of representation. Hodgkin’s works are autobiographical, and deeply evocative of places and people, but operate in their own abstracted language of colour and form. ‘I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances’, he once said. ‘I paint representational pictures of emotional states’ (H. Hodgkin, quoted in E. Juncosa (ed.), Writers on Howard Hodgkin, London 2006, p. 104).

India was a wellspring of inspiration for Hodgkin, who visited the country almost every year from 1964 onwards. He was first drawn there by his passion for Mughal and Rajput miniatures, which he had collected since his schooldays: for him, they represented ‘a whole world in which everything was very precise and visible and yet somewhere else’ (H. Hodgkin, quoted in D. Sylvester, London Recordings, London 2005, p. 107). Luminous, concise, and often set within ornate borders, these transportive paintings can be seen to obliquely inform Hodgkin’s jewel-like works. His own distinctive use of frames is central to his practice. With support, surround and paint forged into a unified whole, the paintings—and indeed the memories and sentiments that fuel them—are enshrined as autonomous, self-sufficient presences. ‘The more evanescent the emotion I want to convey,’ Hodgkin said, ‘the thicker the panel, the heavier the framing, the more elaborate the border, so that this delicate thing will remain protected and intact’ (H. Hodgkin, quoted in P. Kinmonth, ‘Howard Hodgkin’, Vogue, June 1984). While buffering the contained feeling against the outside world, the frames—like stage curtains, or the doorway to a room—also serve a focal and compositional purpose, inviting the viewer into an intimate interior realm.

Hodgkin sometimes felt the need to work on a single picture for several years until it ‘returned’ the memory that sparked its creation, almost as if the painting were a magical object. In his final decades, however, he began to paint with a greater economy and immediacy. While precise memories remained his starting point, his paintings underwent less arduous revision and reworking; he would instead spend a longer time premeditating his marks, which became more open and urgent. Completed towards the end of the artist’s life, Bombay Afternoon exemplifies this newfound freedom. A lifetime of looking and longing can be felt in each fluid, eloquent stroke of Hodgkin’s brush. ‘If this is a “last style”,’ wrote Alan Hollinghurst, ‘it is a dazzlingly comprehensive one, romantic, lyrical, playful, elegiac, from which one takes away an impression of the irresolvable richness of human emotion’ (A. Hollinghurst, ‘Howard Hodgkin’, 2004, in E. Juncosa (ed.), ibid., p. 167).

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