and per se and: part XXII - Liliane Tomasko & Howard Hodgkin

14 - 24 February 2018

and per se and is a rolling sequence of exhibitions where one work is paired with another for two weekly periods, across a stretch of 12 months. From 14 February Liliane Tomasko’s is joined by one of Howard Hodgkin’s final paintings, Tide, 2015-2016. Howard Hodgkin, who died aged 84 in March last year, was lauded as one of the finest of all British abstract painters, and yet, the description was not necessarily one that he recognised. As he famously said of himself: ‘I am representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations’. In other words the marks of abstraction were tools that he used in pursuit of a greater truth to make paintings steeped in memory and personal meaning. Tide is a small painting in arcs and streaks of blue, white, green and pink on a wooden panel, and typical of the lucidity that Hodgkin found in his last years; the almost casual but urgent handling of the paint belies the fact of its being made over time - teased and troubled into the world. There’s an ambiguity in this that was key to everything he did in a lifetime of art-making - a simultaneous sharing and withholding of a private narrative, presented as saturated moments of expression and colour. Interviewed in New York at the time of one of his last exhibitions in May 2016 he described the loneliness of painting as an essential force and, despite the explosions of colour and passages of unbridled joy in his work, it is true that a kind of melancholy sits never far from the surface. He also said that ‘a lot of people are afraid of pictures which have visible emotions in them’, but more often than not his paintings succeed precisely because of their honesty; the equivocal balance of conviction and uncertainty in their making which acknowledges that, for all of this emotional sincerity, no painting will ever fully succeed – ‘It doesn’t mean enough, ever, quite.’ Tomasko’s painting shares something of this fusion of sharing and withholding: with the painting as a public expression of private inspiration. presents an exuberant collision of reds, yellows, pinks and greens draped over a looping black line, and yet despite its explicit vibrancy something of its energy remains contained and unexpectedly restrained. Tomasko’s partner Sean Scully, whose painting Blue Blue preceded Hodgkin’s Tide in this sequence, has called her 'the painter of the lost and the left. The painter of memories' a sentiment that also serves to describe Howard Hodgkin’s work, another artist who has defined an individual artistic language combining powerful physical presence with the pursuit of emotional possibility.