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Critical Review

“I did not know what I was looking for when I came (to India), except that I was looking for somewhere else … I thought it was everything I had hoped, charming people, very naked emotions. It was another place, very revealing and captivating.” It is through these words that Sir Howard Hodgkin, one of the most prominent painters and printmakers of Post War British art, remembers his first visit to India in 1964. When he left for the country, Hodgkin was following in on a trend amongst the British and American counterculture, which referred to India as an alternative to the ramping capitalism of the West. In the eyes of artists like Hodgkin, India was a place for truthfulness, a place to delve into one’s own deepest self through meditation and contemplation. Since that first trip, India became a second place for the artist, a source of raw material and incessant inspiration.

Indian Views, a series of 13 screen prints produced by the artist in 1971, celebrates Hodgkin’s love for the country through vivid and colourful depictions of the Indian landscape as seen by the artist from train windows. In a manner distinctive of Hodgkin’s hand, the works are not literal representations but rather attempts to captivate through painting the emotions and moods evoked in the artist during his long train rides. Each work presents multiple levels of coloured frames, and display a palette where yellow, beige and ivory seem to predominate. While together the prints create an enticing album of the artist’s memories from India, each print is associated by the artist with a particular sight or landscape. The artist recounted having been drawn to India’s extraordinary light, its ravishing beauty, and its mysterious landscapes. Each landscape view is here translated visually through different colours. While some works speak of sea views, such as Indian View A, others poetically evoke sunrises and sunsets, like Indian View H. Then again, some others capture Indian gardens, flowers and plants, but, above all else, each view is about memory and remembrance.