Howard Hodgkin at the Hepworth Wakefield

In the Studio of Jamini Roy, an oil painting on wood, has been lent to the ‘Howard Hodgkin: Painting India’ exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield until 8 October. Presenting a display of Hodgkin’s Indian-inspired works, the exhibition reveals the colourful sights and sounds that drew him back to the country over a period of 50 years.

In the Studio of Jamini Roy

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This painting was created from memory and commemorates a visit to the studio of the Indian painter Jamini Roy (1887–1972), one of India’s most important modernist painters. Roy drew upon the folk tradition within his own culture, simplifying form and using bright colour and bold brushstrokes.  Determined to make Indian art accessible to a wider audience, Hodgkin curated Six Indian Painters at Tate Britain in 1982, an exhibition that included the work of Jamini Roy.

Hodgkin made his first trip to India in 1964, and over the years on subsequent visits he assembled a large collection of Indian miniatures.  He has described the emotional effect the encounters with people in India has had on his work:

… sometimes when I’m in India, unlike when I’m anywhere else, there are little glimpses when you see encounters between people – compared with the way we all behave, they behave with the utmost circumspection and so forth. It has obviously influenced my painting a lot come to think of it. Because there are glimpses of encounters and things that are almost offstage which suddenly impinge on you very clearly because of the general tempo of life there. There are sort of passionate moments.

Hodgkin famously described his own paintings as ‘representational pictures of emotional situations’. Capturing a particular time, place and mood, In the Studio of Jamini Roy both reveals and obscures his subject matter by layering the surface of the canvas with bold colours and distinctive marks. On first viewing the work seems totally abstract, however, it is possible to read it as depicting an interior room, filled with canvases. The blue vertical shape on the right is reminiscent of a human form, which has perhaps entered the room through the red doorway in the distance.

Hodgkin also once said ‘my pictures are narrative paintings which describe specific moments and very definite people.’ In this painting he attempts to recreate the intensity and vibrancy of the visit, transforming the studio into a relationship between hot orange and yellow colours and rounded shapes.

Sir Howard Hodgkin, one of Britain’s most successful painters, was born into a family long connected with the arts as connoisseurs and practitioners. He decided at the age of five to become a painter. His art teacher at school, Wilfred Blunt, introduced him to Indian painting, which, together with the work of Henri Matisse, was an important and continuing source of inspiration.

In 1949, Hodgkin spent a brief period at Camberwell School of Art. From 1950 until 1954, he studied at the Bath Academy, Corsham, in Wiltshire. He subsequently taught at Corsham and also at the Chelsea School of Art, London.  He has been a Trustee of the National and Tate Galleries and was awarded the CBE in 1977. He was knighted in 1992. Hodgkin exhibited in the First India Triennale in 1968; represented Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennial; and won the Turner Prize in 1985. In 2000 he designed a mural for the new British Council building in New Delhi. His work is represented in major British galleries as well as in public collections in the USA, Denmark, Brazil and Australia.

This painting featured in a major retrospective of Hodgkin’s work at Tate Britain in 2006. Further shows of his work were held at the Gagosian Gallery in London, Paris, Rome and New York from 2011–2015.  Hodgkin died just before ‘Absent Friends’, an exhibition of his portraits, opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2017.

Further Information

Howard Hodgkin: Painting India
Hepworth Wakefield
Gallery Walk
Wakefield, WF1 5AW

Telephone: 01924 247360
Email: hello@hepworthwakefield.org