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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London

Howard Hodgkin
1932 - 2017
KERALA
signed, titled and dated 1992 on the reverse
oil on wood
23.5 by 35.6 cm. 9 1/4 by 14 in.
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Provenance

Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
Private Collection, Singapore
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Howard Hodgkin, October - November 1993
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Howard Hodgkin, December 1993 - January 1994, p. 39, illustrated in colour

Literature

Edward Lucie-Smith, ‘In Profile: Howard Hodgkin’, Art Review, Vol. 45, October 1993, p. 5, illustrated in colour
Marla Price, Ed., Howard Hodgkin: Paintings, London 1995, p. 126, no. 258, illustrated in colour
Exh. Cat., Fort Worth, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Howard Hodgkin: Painting, March - July 1996, p. 126, illustrated
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Howard Hodgkin, London 2001, p. 113, illustrated in colour
Marla Price, Howard Hodgkin: The Complete Paintings, Catalogue Raisonné, London 2006, p. 264, no. 257, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

An intimate wooden panel on which swathes of deep green, midnight blue and gold float over one another, Kerala is emblematic of Howard Hodgkin’s understated, yet distinctive and mesmerising style. The Turner-prize winner is known for his playful juxtaposition of vibrant colours and references to American Abstract Expressionist painters such as Pollock and Newman. Kerala, a depiction of Hodgkin’s experience in the eponymous Indian state situated along the tropical Malabar Coast, is part of the artist’s ongoing series of travel paintings and best capture the artist’s very human desire to embrace adventure and novelty through travel.

Despite achieving international recognition during the 1980s amidst the heyday of neo-expressionism, Hodgkin’s practice relates more closely to Abstract Expressionism than to his contemporary counterparts. Clearly visible in Hodgkin’s oeuvre are his appreciation for Newman’s saturated colours and Pollock’s complex illusions of pictorial space. Yet Hodgkin prefers jewel-like panels to the monumental canvases favoured by Pollock and Newman. Hodgkin’s choice of panels, perhaps a reflection of his British humility, enables him to channel the Expressionist emotional outpour through chromatic experimentation into an intimate pictorial space. Standing in front of Hodgkin’s paintings, the viewer is not dwarfed by the sheer size of the canvas and, consequently, the ego of the artist. Rather, one is invited to peer through the windows Hodgkin conjures from his picture frames at scenes which the artist saw during his travels. Rather, one is invited to peer at scenes witnessed by the artist through the window frames Hodgkin has conjured.

Hodgkin’s inclination to abstraction has not hindered the artist from asserting his identity as a representational painter. Instead of realising representation through figuration or realism, the artist’s pictures represent what he calls ‘emotional situations.’ As embodied by his travel series, Hodgkin’s paintings employ ingenious appositions of vibrant colours to capture certain emotions and feelings. By avoiding specific visual details in his paintings and by restraining the scene to a view through a window, Hodgkin’s paintings serve as prompts with which viewers could delve into their individual memories of past adventures.

Kerala’s tranquil ultramarine and vibrant orange conjure in one’s mind the pleasures of an Indian summer: the warmth of the sun baking their skin and seeping through their bodies, the shimmering silver of the sea and the rhythmic lapse of the rolling tides. Appreciating the fragile preciousness of these memory fragments, Hodgkin admits: “the more tenuous or fleeting the emotion you want to represent the more it’s got to be protected from the world” (Howard Hodgkin cited in: Exh. Cat., Fort Worth, Forth Worth Museum of Art, Howard Hodgkin: Paintings, 1995, p. 25).

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London