The first major survey of prints by Sir Howard Hodgkin (b. 1932), one of Britain's most celebrated living artists, will inaugurate Alan Cristea Gallery's new premises in Pall Mall on 5 October 2016. The exhibition After All, on display from 5 October - 18 November 2016, is also the title of a new series of prints by Hodgkin which will be shown alongside the best examples of Hodgkin's printmaking from across five decades.
Works dating from 1977 to 2015 represent traces of locations, travel experiences, personal encounters and seasons, themes that Hodgkin has returned to over the years. The marks on his new works on paper are sure, deft, direct, and vital. They have a spontaneity that belie their lifelong gestation. These visual gestures have synaesthetic qualities, a colour that evokes a touch, a brush-mark that conjures up a taste or an aroma.
The new works, which include Grape Harvest, Fresh Fruit Crumble, Ice Cream, Coast and A Pale Reflection, all made by Hodgkin in 2016, hint at memories of England, days by the sea, the taste of an ice cream on a summer holiday, the wind brushing clouds across the sky, and yet they remain unequivocally in the present. Hodgkin achieves all this through a highly personal hybrid fusion of print-making and painting, an intaglio base of carborundum and aquatint accentuated and enlivened by hand-painted touches. He throws out the printmaking rule book in the service of hard won spontaneity.
Hodgkin's overseas travel experiences are captured in prints made in the early 90s Moroccan Door (1990), Indian Tree (1990-91) and Venice Evening (1995). These works were printed and editioned with the guidance of Jack Shirreff at the 107 Workshop in Wiltshire. In 2005, after fifteen years of collaboration, Hodgkin made For Jack. This print is one of three in the exhibition that were made as dedications, including For Antony made by Hodgkin for his partner in 2015 and a series of seven prints in seven different colour variations For Alan I - VII (2014), produced to honour Alan Cristea. Prints such as Jarid's Porch (1977), Rain (2001), Black Monsoon (1988), Wet Day (2014), Sundown (2014) further explore the experiences life has offered Hodgkin over time.
Alan Cristea comments, "These new prints are by an artist at the height of his powers. They have a freshness, an economy and a directness which only very few artists have been able to achieve after a lifetime of labour. They call to mind those exquisite images of birds by George Braque that he composed in the last months of his life when glancing through the windows of his home in Paris or even the late murals by Matisse in the chapel at St Paul de Vence. All are distilled images that are the result of a lifetime of observation, passion and sheer hard work."
"It must have been in the early seventies that I first met Howard. It was in 1987 that I first worked with him on print editions - so almost thirty years of collaboration. That's a long time to work with an artist. I am grateful to him for all the wonderful prints he has made in that time - originally lithographs, now always hand-painted etchings. I thought it would be a suitable gesture to express my respect and my gratitude by making this new body of work the subject of our first exhibition in our new premises".
Howard Hodgkin comments, "I first worked with Alan when he was part of Waddington Graphics. That was in 1986/87 for Red Palm and Black Palm. There were solo print exhibitions in 1991 and 1998 but the first time I worked with Alan as an independent publisher was with Venetian Views in 1995. They were made with Jack Shirreff at 107 Workshop in Wiltshire. Alan made it easy for me to work with Jack, mostly by keeping out of the way. That may sound a negative but it's not always so easy. Printing, unlike painting, is a collaborative process and the less people meddle, the better. Alan never intruded or queried what I wanted to do, even when I made a print that was 20 ft. long …
Over the years we have grown and grown old together. He has built up a formidable team and inspired them to match his standards as a professional. He's now a global force, with a major presence at all the world's important art fairs. Visitors report back, dazzled by the impact his stands have in Basel, Hong Kong, New York etc. I owe him a lot."
After All consists of twenty two prints, eighteen of them in small format and the remaining four much larger. The eighteen are in editions of 30 and will be available both individually or as part of an especially-designed boxed set.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by art historian, critic and broadcaster Andrew Graham-Dixon.