Hodgkin is widely regarded as one of the most important artists working in Britain today having emerged as a major figure in the 1970s. His oeuvre traces the evolution of his vocabulary through the portraits on canvas of friends and interiors of the 1960s, to his adoption in the mid 1970s of the wooden panel and frame, defining painting as object, and through to the later, looser and more gestural paintings of the 1990s. Hodgkin himself has said that he paints "representational pictures of emotional situations."
Despite their apparent spontaneity and usually small scale, many of Hodgkin's paintings take years to complete, with the artist returning to a work after a wait and then changing it or adding to it. He often paints over the frames of his pictures, emphasizing the idea of the painting as an object. Several of his works are on wooden items, such as bread-boards or the tops of old tables. Binding together all his work is his consistent exploration of the representation of personal encounters, emotional experience and memories of specific events. Whether trips to India, Egypt or Morocco, or social occasions such as dinner with friends, particular moments are simultaneously reconstructed and obscured through a layering of the picture surface with distinct marks and intense colors, often achieved only over a period of several years.
While associations have been made to Matisse, Vuillard, Degas and American abstract expressionist painting, as well as Pahari miniature paintings of which the artist is an avid collector through his many trips to India, Hodgkin has continued to forge a strongly independent path, developing a distinctive style.
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