- Howard Hodgkin
- signed and dated 1994-1995 on the reverse
- oil on wood
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1996
James Fallon, 'The English Master', W, March 1996, p. 164, illustrated in colour
Marla Price, Howard Hodgkin: The Complete Paintings Catalogue Raisonné, Fort Worth 2006, p. 285, no. 278, illustrated in colour
Executed in 1994-95 and originally entitled In Denbigh Road, David Sylvester's Notting Hill address in West London, Gossip is an exceptional painting by Howard Hodgkin that was completed in the year of the artist's major retrospective organised by the Museum of Fort Worth, which travelled to New York and Dusseldorf, and in which it also featured. In scale, composition, colour and execution this painting is truly outstanding within the artist's canon.
Often completed over a period of years that allowed Hodgkin to transform them into coherent physical objects that contain an evanescent and emotional sense of realism, his pictures describe situations and people that are familiar and very close to the artist. Hodgkin's aim is to recover memories and meaning and always carry profound personal import. The titles of Hodgkin's works are highly evocative and give the viewer clues regarding a possible descriptive reading of the painting. However the descriptions the titles convey are simply suggestive and never entirely explanatory. As observed by the artist: "I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations (Marla Price, Howard Hodgkin: The Complete Paintings Catalogue Raisonné, Fort Worth 2006, p. 14).
In the present work the beautifully painted frame shelters a curious wave of glowing green hues on a horizon of summery shades of orange. The personal and intimate relationship between the artist and his pictures results in a great sense of protection that is embodied in their frames and borders. As Hodgkin observes, his pictures often include a frame that he has painted on as part of the work: "I sometimes go to immense lengths to, as it was, fortify them before they leave the studio. The more evanescent the emotions I want to convey, the thicker the panel, the heavier the framing, the more elaborate the border, so that the delicate thing will remain protected and intact." (Ibid., p. 33).
Painted over two years, the present, stunning Gossip beautifully displays Hodgkin's signature technique of illusionistic space and the artist's refusal of the accepted rules of perspective. In this process Hodgkin has been highly influenced by Indian artists, whose work he has been obsessed with while visiting the country regularly for years, and their representational techniques that don't follow Western Art's conventions and more specifically don't break the picture planes with 'false' perspective. Hodgkin magisterially employs this illusionistic approach in his own work and in the present work Gossip.