Absent Friends

March 22, 2017

Now you see them, now you don’t; Absent Friends by Howard Hodgkin is this Spring’s must-go to new art exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery London, featuring loans from world collections.

Mrs Nicholas Monro

Mrs Nicholas Monro

The first show to focus on Hodgkin’s powerful, provocative, portrait paintings where he expresses the essence of his friends and relationships in dazzling colours, shapes and patterns, it challenges viewers to look into his apparently abstract art to see the people and memories it truly represents.

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One such is Hodgkin’s painting of friend Paul Levy, famed “Foodie” Wine and Arts writer who stood beside his own Howard Hodgkin portrait at the Press View of Absent Friends.

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D.H. in Hollywood

 A poignant title, for the recent untimely death of Howard Hodgkin (1932 – 2017) one of Britain’s greatest artists with international impact, meant that Hodgkin himself was an Absent Friend at what is now his legacy exhibition.

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Portrait of the Artist Listening to Music

Hodgkin completed his final painting (Portrait of the Artist Listening to Music 2011-2016) expressly for Absent Friends.  With a sweep of his hand and fabulous colour palette, Hodgkin evokes fleeting personal moments, lingering yet ethereal  experiences portrayed in his unique visual language. He said;

 I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances, I paint representational pictures of emotional situations.”

Verdict:  Paul Moorhouse, Curator: “Howard Hodgkin is arguably one of the 20th-Century’s greatest portraitists. Hodgkin’s portraits are unorthodox because they represent memories and emotions, rather than literal appearances. These wonderfully sensuous and often intimate images are entirely about people.”

Need to Know: Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends, National Portrait Gallery, London (, 23 March – 18 June 2017, Book by curator Paul Moorhouse £29.99

Liz Osmond 



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