and per se and: Part XXIII - Howard Hodgkin & Floral Arabesque

28 February - 10 March 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 today Howard Hodgkin’s painting Tide, 2015-2016 is joined by a seventeenth century Indian drawing of a floral arabesque. 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 was one of Hodgkin’s final paintings, composed of arcs and streaks of blue, white, green and pink oil paint on a wooden panel, typical of the lucidity that Hodgkin found in his last years in which the almost casual but urgent handling of the painted surface belies the fact of being made over time; teased and troubled into the world. Paired here with a small Indian brush drawing of a stylised floral arabesque, there is a noticeable similarity of scale and looping forms, but the reason for bringing them together has nothing to do with any superficial visual connection. Their relationship is a more tangible one, in that Hodgkin was a pre-eminent collector of Indian works of art and this modest and, perhaps, untypical drawing was formerly a part of his collection. Hodgkin’s passion for Indian painting was lifelong, beginning as a schoolboy under the tutelage of his art teacher Wilfred Blunt which lead to a first visit to India in 1964 and annual visits thereafter. In time Hodgkin assembled one of the greatest collections of Indian paintings in private hands. His love of India profoundly affected his view of the world and, of course, emerges in the high-coloured intensity of his own painting. We are grateful to Howard Hodgkin’s estate, Gagosian Gallery and Prahlad Bubbar for making this pairing possible.