Roger Wright’s favourite painting
The CEO of Snape Maltings is delighted by Sir Howard Hodgkin’s Ice Cream
‘I have always loved the work of Howard Hodgkin and, with his recent death, I turned again to his vibrant output, particularly his recent collection “After All”. This is joyous late work, which also has a touchingly elegiac quality. Having moved to work on the idyllic Suffolk coast, I find that Ice Cream has a new resonance for me. It is one of a number of these relief prints that celebrate the pleasures of simple food and drink. Its typically powerful brushstrokes and juxtaposed gorgeous colours give a heartwarming and evocative sense of fun and nostalgia ’
Sir Howard Hodgkin, who died in March, connoisseur, internationally renowned collector of 16th- to 19th-century indian pictures and acclaimed painter (knighted 1992), had a Quaker heredity of artistic and scientific distinction. His cousin was Eliot Hodgkin, the still-life painter, who had ‘wonderful paintings by Corot and degas’. roger Fry, art critic and founder of Bloomsbury’s omega workshops, was a cousin and his namesake Luke Howard (1772– 1864), ‘father of meteorology’, named the clouds (cumulus, cirrus and so on).
when he ran away from Eton, the policeman who arrested him asked him why. ‘Because i want to be an artist,’ he replied. The policeman heartily approved. nevertheless, Sir Howard didn’t exhibit until he was 30 and began making prints in his forties.
His print publisher and dealer Alan Cristea persuaded him to return to printmaking in old age after a long gap. Sir Howard was in poor health, but rose to the occasion, making a suite of 18 hand-painted relief prints in two editions with the printmaker Andrew Smith and his team. They are domestic in size, rich in colour and lusciously gestural in expression, a style that first emerged in his painting in the late 1970s, but never more lavishly than in these valedictory works, which have names with titles suggesting food, places and weather.
He disliked his paintings being called ‘abstract’, the titles indicating there was always a subject, however personal. This was illustrated by his choice of favourite painting (August 25, 2010): the ultimate abstractionist Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie.
Sir Howard’s latest exhibitions are ‘Absent Friends’ (national Portrait gallery, until June 18) and ‘Painting india’ (Hepworth wakefield, July 1– october 8).
Ice Cream, 2015–16, by Sir Howard Hodgkin (1932–2017), 30in by 44½in, handpainted carborandum print relief