A TOURING exhibition of 43 prints by Howard Hodgkin opens at Scarborough Art Gallery on Saturday. Howard is one of Britain’s most internationally celebrated artists, says Shirley Collier, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust.
The prints range in size from small to large and encompass works from Howard’s entire career in print.
Howard is best known as a painter and painting dominates his creative output. “However, he has also continually explored the possibilities of printmaking using a variety of media and techniques to produce a substantial body of work as accomplished as his oils”, Shirley says.
His first experiments with printmaking were as a student, when he realised prints could create texture and layered imagery. Some of his favourite artists – Vuillard, Bonnard and Matisse – were influenced by the graphic art of Toulouse Lautrec and Jules Cheret.
The etchings and lithographs that dominate Howard’s prints of the last 25 years are, like most prints, produced as a series of layers. “But, as well as employing the more formal processes of printmaking, Howard has broken many of the rules of the craft, and the results are among the most stunning effects of colour and surface in contemporary printmaking” says Shirley.
His bold, colourful prints are based on memories of events, places and people. His images, both in the medium of prints and paintings, are arrived at through the act of remembering.
In his painting, this is a slow and spontaneous process of layering and mark-making. His experiments have included working with softground, aquatint, carborundum and etching, sometimes combined with hand colouring.
Shirley adds: “An unprecedented sense of depth of space is achieved in certain works through the layering of colours and textures, and the prints possess a luminosity unparalleled in printmaking”.
Andy Barker, Howard’s studio assistant, will give an illustrated talk on his master’s hand-coloured prints and discuss them in relation to his painting practice at the gallery on 16 September.
The exhibition runs until 18 September.