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‘Absent Friends’: the unorthodox portraiture of Howard Hodgkin

In this video, we take a trip back in time to experience London’s National Portrait Gallery’s extraordinary 2017 show, ‘Absent Friends’, exhibiting abstract portraits from 1949-2016, of British artist Howard Hodgkin.

Hodgkin, who passed away in 2017, just days before the show opened, was one of the last century’s greatest painters, and, as the video eloquently argues, one of its greatest portraitists, too.

Through their rich colours, complex illusionistic space and sensuous brushwork, the works in ‘Absent Friends’ explore Hodgkin’s development of a personal visual language of portraiture, which challenged traditional forms of representation.

“We’ve never, ever had an exhibition of portraits… with no pictures of people,” says curator Paul Moorhouse, in reference to some of the works, which make no attempt to even hint at the human form.

Equally, the role of memory, the expression of emotion and the exploration of relationships between people and places, are all preoccupations of the show.

Today, Hodgkin’s works hang in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Tate Gallery in London.

View the original video here.

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