Today I re-discovered Howard Hodgkin. An interview with Andrew Graham-Dixon , plus several articles convinced me that his view of art speak is very similar to mine. I’m no good at art speak . I’m going to use his words, which are far more expressive than mine to explain what I mean.
‘It’s very difficult to talk about it, (painting) because we talk about it using words, and words don’t come into it when you’re –at least not when I’m painting. I can’t be much help I’m afraid.’
It is really hard to talk about my work. After looking back over the years and especially over the last 6 years, I realize that art, or painting is my language. I neither want to, nor need to talk about it. Another quote about Hodgkin is….
‘Paint is, for him, more eloquent than words. When people ask him what he means by a painting, he’s given to saying: ‘Look! Just look!’ (https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jul/28/howard-hodgkin-saturday-interview
I often feel like saying something similar but usually try to politely explain my work. I can never find the words. When questioned about the subject matter of his work, he says he is ‘a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances’. He paints pictures of emotional situations. This is similar to the thing I try to do – to conjure in paint a memory, a sense of what things were like at a given moment in time, but without actually painting a narrative image. My work is abstracted and ambiguous. I try to represent the senses and feelings; the human consciousness of the subject rather than the visual and figurative elements.
Like Hodgkin, and I’m sure many other painters, each painting has to have a starting-point. Humans always crave meaning. They ask what is it? what’s it about? It’s almost impossible not to seek meaning in everything we see and in life itself. But once I’ve found my reason or meaning I then want to let it go and for the viewer, to impose their own meaning. I don’t want to explain my thoughts when I painted it.
Graham-Dixon asked Hodgkin if he had enough memories left on which to draw or did he feel the need to travel to seek out new experiences? He replied that he had far too many memories left to fulfill and that was the reason for him speeding up his output. As Hodgkin says, when he sells a picture
“It makes room for the next thing, which is very important. And that does come from old age, I suspect. There’s less time, so on one goes”‘ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jul/28/howard-hodgkin-saturday-
I know I bore my friends by saying -We’re all going to die at some point in the future but as that unknowable point gets closer the urgency to do things increases. Many artists are driven by this need towards the end of their lives and I am no exception. Not only do I want to paint my memories, I want to travel and make more.