This signed lithograph from 1968 is a rare, limited edition of 75 from Howard Hodgkin’s 5 Rooms series. The horizontal print presents to the viewer an abstract and highly stylised representation of a human figure, a girl – as the title indicates – as she sits on a couch.
Girl On A Sofa, together with its sister Girl At Night and the other prints in the portfolio, was made when Hodgkin was still a teacher at Bath Academy of Art, his alma mater, and therefore represents one of the earliest prints in Hodgkin’s oeuvre.
The print presents an image of a girl – although Hodgkin’s amorphous representation makes it hard to distinguish any physiological features – depicted through a half red and half yellow circle and a black brushstroke that evokes movement. The body of the girl is instead represented through the use of a lighter colour, demarcated against a very bright orange background and a stripped, horizontal navy and white bottom.
As one of Hodgkin’s earliest prints, this work betrays some of the germinal stylistic features of his practice – a far cry from the explosive, dynamic and energetic language of his more well-known works. Here, the colours are contained in clearly delineated shapes, making this print more similar to Pablo Picasso’s cubist language, or even Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract paintings, than to the John Hoyland style to which Hodgkin is more usually compared. Beyond style, the subject matter of the print, confined in an interior space, further brings this image closer to Picasso’s famous depictions of women reclining in a chair, looking out of the window.