Howard Hodgkin

Howard Hodgkin: A Small Thing But My Own 1983-5


Howard Hodgkin born 6th of August 1932 is one of the leading British painters and printmakers. His work covers the field of abstract art. Some of his early paintings included hard- edged curved forms and colour limitations. Some of his work is currently present in the Tate Britain Gallery in London and has been exhibited there since 2006.
His abstract paintings represent ‘emotional situations’ He said at the Dinner of West Hill. His work is very often categorised as abstract expressionism. His picked up the space between Turner; the powerful emotional explosiveness of Van Gogh and the colder abstractions of Pollock, De Kooning and the late canvases of Kline. Despite their apparent spontaneity and usually small scale, many of Hodgkin's paintings take years to complete. As abstract as they can be, his paintings are not always painted in canvas. He often used wooden items such as bread boards or table tops. 

Around the beginning of the 1970s, Hodgkin's style became more spontaneous, with vaguely recognisable shapes presented in bright colours and bold forms. His works may then be called "semi-abstract", and are often compared to the paintings of Henri Matisse.
In 1984, Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, in 1985 he won the Turner Prize, and in 1992 he was knighted.
In 1995, Hodgkin printed the Venetian Views series, which depict the same view of Venice at four different times of day. Venice, Afternoon - one of the four prints -
 uses sixteen sheets, or fragments, in a hugely complex printing process which 
creates a colourful, painterly effect. This piece was given to the Yale Centre of British
 Art in June 2006 by the Israel family to complement their already-impressive collection
 of Hodgkin’s.

Hodgkin uses painting to capture his memory with friends and carry the place of this memory in the title e.g.   
‘Dinner at West Hill’
This painting commemorates a dinner party given in March 1964 by the painter Bernard Cohen and his wife Jeanie. Hodgkin quoted, 'I had to contend with a nervous and glittering evening in a green and white room full of small B. Cohen’s on the wall'.
Some of the marks in this picture derive from the forms in Cohen's paintings. The white line both represents the edge of the table and reiterates the flatness of the picture plane.

My first impression of this artwork and pretty much all the painting by Howard was that he has a childish way of expressing memories. The reason I think its childish is because if you asked a child to paint his memory of something this is how it would look like so in the way I look at his work now, anyone could paint this type of art with a memory enabled  into it.
What I see in this artwork is a variety of simple shapes and tiny dots filling the spaces between the shapes. They very clearly look like they were painted because there are several brush marks in this art piece. The red object to the right hand side reminds me of a sake bottle. This could say that one of the memories of this artist was drinking or something like that. I also see s trip of tape going through the centre of the artwork.

Each one of the shapes in this artwork is significant to a memory of the artist. Other than the shape, he also used color to show these memories maybe using red as something uncomfortable and blue when something good happened E.g. he shaked hands with another famous artist.

The main formal elements in this artwork is shape, line and color. This is supposed to be simple and this is why it uses the basic formal elements. As stated before "white line both represents the edge of the table and reiterates the flatness of the picture plane." This tells me that the artwork is significant to a dinner and all the things that happened during this dinner are painted in this artwork.

The artwork gives me a funny mood. This might be because it was painted in a child's way. For some reason, I can't feel calm about it and the way it's been drawn in constantly makes me dislike this artwork. Even though it is very original in every other way of putting a memory into it.


I think that this artist strongly links with another of my researched artists, Audrey Flack. They both link to my theme of memories and they use a similar method to present how their work holds a particular memory. As they paint, they want to put one of their memories into the painting. Hodgkin paints what he remembers from an event. He picks colors, shapes and brush strokes to present his memory of this event. Audrey Flack uses super realistic style of painting to create an almost exact copy of the still life she was painting from. Her painting carries all the objects that were significant to the artist. E.g. lipsticks, mirrors or roses. These objects are part of her and also become part of her memory.  


Positive Reponce

Howard Hodgkin is famous for the idea of putting a memory into a painting. As a responce, I created a painting of my own 'positive' memory from a time I was at the sea side last summer. I used color and distorted forms to describe my feeling at that time and express what it felt like to be there.

I used a lot of red and yellow around the painting to describe the atmosphere. These colors represent warm colors and best describe that the temperature in the painting is very high. It was a very hot day and it felt very hazy which is why everything in this response is distorted. The blue is known as the cold the color and I used it to describe the temperature of the water at the sea. Despite being very warm, the water itself was very cold. The reason I placed this color at the bottom is because I only went to knees height deep. The blue represents be being cold at feet and very hot at the rest of my body. The green at the centre is other people and the feeling of enjoyment. Howard often used color to show people and using the color shown their importance e.g. using gold, he shows that the person was precious or green to show that they were humorous. I also used to green to show the fun I had at the beach and shown the people I had fun with. It was my whole family, so I decided to use a lot of green at the centre.

Negative responce

This is a negative responce to one of the sad memories I remember from the past. It's a memory of me getting ill and catching a certain disease. It was a long period of time that it lasted and it was hard to deal with it. In this responce, I didn't use any bright colors and tried to compress  everything into dull and boring colors to show that I didn't feel happy nor did I enjoy any part of it.

The centre spiral represents that the time period it lasted for was almost like an endless loop.

Hodgkin would use simple shapes and lines usually brushed in at random. What I did was slightly different. I took a brush and added some color to it and then dipped it in water. I only added a blob onto the page and allowed it to take shape any way it wants to show that I am not in control but something else being in control of me. This responds back to the illness I had when I were young.

Responce from Box file


After summer, I created 2 more responses, but this time using my Box file to work from. I arranged the items outside the box to form a collage. I put them in a way to show as much of the object as possible, but at the same time try and show the side with most to it to make it easier to link it to one of the past memories. Just like Hodgkin, I wanted to make each shape represent one thing about my memory. While painting, I would think back and paint what I felt and saw at the time. I used a memory of me winning in a gaming tournament. It was a very quick and shocking moment and I still remember the excitement of when I realised that I've won.
I used simple brush strokes to paint out the items in the collage. The color explosion in the centre represents that split second of shock when I’ve knew I won. It starts with very bright red and ends with black. The black shows how the excitement quickly faded away after the shock.


I kept the college the same as the previous one for the negative memory so I could then compare the two and see how the two memories differ in term of shape and color. I used a range of tertiary colors instead of primary or secondary. Using tertiary colors, I can express the negative feeling better than the primary ones and is also clearer to see that it's a negative memory.
I responded to a day with lots of fog and rain outside. I was home alone and the feeling of being on your own in such weather was a terrible experience. Although it happens often that such things occur, the weather at the time was more dull and dark than any other day.
I used a range of grey and brown colors with some tertiary reds and greens. These represented the items which had strong color in the box file, but are dull in the negative response.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well done- your responses clearly link to Hodgkin and I think you have translated your personal memories very successfully. I know that you have found Hodgkins style of work challenging, but by working using similar methods has certainly helped you gain a deeper understanding of his techniques and processes. I would really like you to consider how an aspect of Hodgkin could be incorperated into your instillation as I think this is highly valuable experimentation!

  3. Excellent responses particularly the last two! However, I feel that you need to go further into the meaning of Hodgkin's works if you truely want to have a clearer understanding of how your own work compares. Quotes by the artist and other critics may be of use as well as links to articles and videos.Mr B.

  4. Thanks for sharing this post i really impressed to watch your amazing art and keep it up and spread always quality of art