Vivid colours to cheer hue up! MELANIE McDONAGH reviews Howard Hodgkin’s exhibition Memories
Howard Hodgkin once observed that ‘art is never therapy, except for the spectator’.
And this exhibition of 19 of his works from the 1980s and 90s is a kind of therapy in these strange times, if your spirits can be lifted by colour.
Around the gallery, the streets are unnaturally quiet. But inside, there’s a succession of bold assemblies of intense colour, taking off from the canvases onto the frames.
Incapable of containing the pictures within, the frames are actually extensions of the works . . . glowing orange, or magenta, or adorned with blobby spots.
MELANIE McDONAGH: This compact gallery is perfect for works that are mostly small, though there’s a big canvas of a palm tree, like a child’s, called In Tangier
It’s a trick Hodgkin repeats endlessly, perhaps to convey the impression that the energy of the work can’t be confined.
Hodgkin died in 2017, alas, and this exhibition has the theme of ‘memory’.
This compact gallery is perfect for works that are mostly small, though there’s a big canvas of a palm tree, like a child’s, called In Tangier.
The titles are specific, referring to memories and associations of Hodgkin’s own.
You have to take it on trust that After Degas, a rounded and vertical sweep of bright orange within an intense green frame, is somehow inspired by the artist.
Clean Sheets, a striking assembly of green strokes, doesn’t evoke anything of the sort, though we’re told it’s to do with a sensuous experience.
What strikes you about Hodgkin is the physicality of his way with paint . . . thick and thin, dabbed, swept and stippled.
My favourite, Old Sky, has the rich and sombre tones of a Turner.
Until December 11; Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, 38 Bury Street, London SW1Y 6BB. Go to hh-h.com.