Learning about Russian Music
oil on wood
55,9 x 65,4 cm
long-term loan, private collection, London
Hodgkin is a superb colorist. His intense and sensual hues seem to have been inspired by his love of Indian art, which he collects extensively. As abstract as the paintings may initially appear to be, Hodgkin describes himself as a "representational artist of emotional situations." Immediately recognizable motifs can scarcely be found in his work. The fact that his paintings have the character of pictures is mainly due to the illusion of space. The French philosopher Merleau Ponty once wrote, in his essay on Cézanne, that this painter attempted to capture in paint not the result, but the activity of observation. It could be said that Hodgkin wants to paint not the remembrance, but the reexperience of the image. Hodgkin has often spoken about the effort required of him in getting the painted surface to tell about something as ephemeral as a memory. As spontaneous as they may appear, in reality they have been hard won, layer by layer, in a lengthy process of development.