What does an emotion look like? London’s National Portrait Gallery gets abstract with Howard Hodgkin show
The museum will also host a show drawing parallels between the self-portraits of Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing by Hannah McGivern
The National Portrait Gallery in London is to stage its first exhibition of abstract works in 2017, dedicated to the unorthodox portraiture of the British painter Howard Hodgkin.
The show, Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends (23 March-18 June 2017), focuses on an enduring yet relatively overlooked aspect of Hodgkin’s work. More than 55 works from 1949 to the present will explore “his important contribution to our understanding of what constitutes a portrait”, according to a statement from the gallery.
Hogkin’s apparently abstract paintings “represent memories and emotions rather than literal appearances”, says the exhibition’s curator, Paul Moorhouse. “But these wonderfully sensuous and often intimate images are nevertheless entirely about people.” The artist has described himself as a “representational painter”, a maker of “representational pictures of emotional situations”.
The gallery has also announced an exhibition of more than 100 works drawing parallels between the slippery self-portraits of the French Surrealist Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and the British photographer and video artist Gillian Wearing. Despite being born 70 years apart, both artists have played with the themes of masquerade and gender identity in their work.
The show, Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask (9 March-29 May 2017), “seems particularly timely” in light of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2017, says its curator, Sarah Howage.
The National Portrait Gallery’s spring season is sponsored by the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.