The Hepworth Wakefield is to present the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the enduring influence of India on Howard Hodgkin’s work, a place he returned to almost annually, since his first trip to the country in 1964.
Approximately 35 works from the last 50 years will be on show, from Hodgkin’s earliest India- inspired paintings of the 1960s through to new work completed in India earlier this year, before his death in March.
Of course, Hodgkin is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest painters and has been a central figure in contemporary art for over half a century. Following a visit to The Hepworth Wakefield in 2016, he 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."
Showing work made over this expansive time period will offer an insight into Hodgkin’s relationship to India while also revealing the evolution of his pictorial language – from the figurative work of the 1960s through to the dynamic, gestural style of recent years. As a painter of memories and experiences, many of the works capture the artist’s sensory impressions of India, from fierce blazing sunsets to heavy oppressive rains, landscapes and cities he has visited, and portraits of the people he has befriended.
The Howard Hodgkin: Painting India exhibition takes place as part of the UK-India Year of Culture. In 2017, the UK and India will launch a major bilateral year of cultural exchange, to celebrate their shared long and rich history. It will go on display from 1 July to 8 October 2017 at The Hepworth Wakefield.
Main image: Howard Hodgkin, Mrs Acton in Delhi, 1967–71 Oil on canvas, 122 x 148cm | Credit: © Howard Hodgkin Courtesy the artist and Gagosian