This signed aquatint print from 2009 is a rare limited edition of 7 from Howard Hodgkin’s As Time Goes By series. The horizontal print is composed of five different panels joined together by a wooden structure, and constitutes the largest work on paper ever created by the beloved painter and printmaker Howard Hodgkin. The work depicts an abstract scene, dominated by many red-toned colourful dots that permeate the composition, and is framed by a vibrant red frame hand-painted by the artist.
The print, also available in blue, was perhaps Hodgkin’s most monumental endeavour, and brought together the artist’s love for printmaking techniques and his gestural and expressionist brushstrokes, for which he became known as a painter of “emotional memories.” In this work, Hodgkin’s translation of his painterly vocabulary on print is evident. The artist used carborundum embossing, a technique he learnt from Jack Shireff at 107 Workshop, where he produced many of his prints. Through this technique, Hodgkin was able to endow the print with a low-relief quality that aptly evokes the mixture of paint applied on the etched plates.
The piece was first exhibited in 2009 at Cristea Roberts Gallery and has since made it into any historiography of contemporary print works. Notoriously, Hodgkin preferred to leave the meaning of his works vague, so that his viewers could have the chance to identify on a personal basis with his art. Here, this Hodgkin-esque ambiguity emerges at its fullest also through the title of the work, drawn from the famous song sang in the 1942 movie Casablanca. While to many critics the title represents a hint to Hodgkin’s preoccupations with his age, Hodgkin’s decision to open up his works to its audience allows each viewer to speculate on the complex meaning of this piece.