This signed lithograph from 1979 is a limited edition of 80 from Howard Hodgkin’s Dedications collection. The horizontal print is one of the most complex the artist ever produced. In its abstract language of squares and dots, characteristic of Hodgkin’s artistic vocabulary, the print evokes a panoramic night terrace view of palm trees.
For Bernard Jacobson, as the title indicates, is a work that Hodgkin produced for his dear friend Bernard Jacobson, a collector and art dealer that soon became a defining figure in the artist’s career, sponsoring and exhibiting Hodgkin’s works in the eponymous gallery. Hodgkin began the print with the intention of illustrating E M Foster’s book A Passage to India, a project he soon, however, abandoned. And yet, the evocative powers of India in Hodgkin’s mind are clear and well evident in this print, which can be seen as similar in tones and themes to Hodgkin’s series Palms and Indian Views. In the representation, Hodgkin recurred to dots, one of his preferred geometrical abstract motifs, to recreate an Indian nightly landscape, punctuated by yellow and blue palm and banana leaves.
The print constitutes one of Hodgkin’s first attempts at creating large-scale works on paper that would compete with the scale of his paintings. The technical complexity of the work, where printing and hand colouring interact, is also due to Hodgkin’s use of vegetable dyes, which he used to give the work its distinctive and rich dark blue background. A favourite of any Hodgkin’s fan, the incredible popular success of this print is testified by its constant presence in museum and gallery exhibitions, some of which include the Museum of Modern Art of New York and Tate Britain.