I understand
arrow drop search cross
Howard Hodgkin: Painting India at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2017. Photo by Stuart Whipps.
Art & artists >

Howard Hodgkin: Painting India

01 Jul - 08 Oct 2017

‘(India) I couldn’t work without it’
Howard Hodgkin, 2014

Howard Hodgkin (1932 – 2017) is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest painters and has occupied a central place in contemporary art for over half a century.

This was the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the enduring influence of India on Hodgkin’s work, a place he returned to almost annually, since his first trip to the country in 1964, over 50 years ago.

More than 35 works were on display, painted over the last 50 years, which characterise the colour and warmth of India and capture the artist’s sensory impressions of the country – from fierce blazing sunsets to heavy oppressive rains, landscapes and cities he visited, and portraits of the people he befriended. They ranged from Hodgkin’s earliest India-inspired paintings of the 1960s through to new works completed early this year. It included a number of paintings that have never before been exhibited in the UK.

Rarely seen photographs and documents from Hodgkin’s personal archive were also presented, including material relating to his 1992 British Council commission in New Delhi with the architect Charles Correa, as well as journals kept by the artist documenting his journeys in India, which are on public display for the first time. Read excerpts from these journals in the Daily Telegraph.

Work from the artist’s personal collection of Indian art, which first led Hodgkin to visit the country and provoked his enduring love affair with the place and its people accompany the exhibition.

This is a show to take you on those journeys that Hodgkin himself once took… They take you to India in your imagination. They immerse you physically and mentally in their bright world.’

The Times, June 2017

Speaking in 2016, Howard Hodgkin said: ‘I fell in love with Indian art when I was at school, thanks to the enterprising art master, Wilfrid Blunt. I longed to visit India, but only managed to do so in my early thirties. It proved a revelation. It changed my way of thinking and, probably, the way I paint.

I am excited by the idea of this exhibition and delighted it will take place in David Chipperfield’s remarkable building, The Hepworth Wakefield, where I greatly enjoyed the show of paintings by Stanley Spencer.’

The exhibition was accompanied by a  fully illustrated catalogue  published by Lund Humphries, with contributions from Shanay Jhaveri, Associate Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Geeta Kapur, noted critic and art historian, among others.

Howard Hodgkin: Painting India  took place as part of the  UK-India Year of Culture. In 2017, the UK and India hosted a major bilateral year of cultural exchange, to celebrate their shared long and rich history.


About Howard Hodgkin

Howard Hodgkin was born in 1932 in London, England.  He died in March 2017.

He attended the Camberwell School of Art from 1949 to 1950, and Bath Academy of Art from 1950 to 1954. In 1972 he became a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1970-76 and of the National Gallery from 1978-85. In 1976 he was appointed a CBE, in 1984 he represented Britain at the XLI Venice Biennale and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985. Hodgkin was knighted in 1992, awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Hamburg in 1997, made a Companion of Honour in 2003 and given the Swarovski  Whitechapel Art Icon  in 2014.

His first retrospective was curated by Nicholas Serota at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, in 1976. His recent and future exhibitions include: “Made in Mumbai,” Curator’s Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai (2016); and “Absent Friends,” National Portrait Gallery, London (2017).