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Signed Print Edition of 50
H 29cm x W 84cm
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This signed intaglio etching from 1990 is a limited edition of 50 from Howard Hodgkin’s The Way We Live Now series. The horizontal print shows an abstract representation dominated by the red, green and blue tones, arranged through diagonal lines.
But He Did Stop Smoking/ He Didn’t Miss Cigarettes At All belongs to the series of works that Hodgkin made for the publication of Susan Sontag’s book, The Way We Live Now. In the book, Sontag recounted the life of a man who suddenly falls ill with AIDS, and unfolds by following how the everyday reality of the friends of the main character change in relation to the disease. Written at a historical moment when AIDS had become a global pandemic, the book contributed to giving visibility to the people it had affected, de-stigmatising through poignant dialogues the societal biases surrounding the disease. A dear friend of Sontag’s, Hodgkin’s contribution to the book adds to the understanding of his art as socially and politically engaged.
The title of this print, the second out of four, follows the dialogues of the book and evokes the surprise and shock that dominated the main character’s friends’ response, as they suddenly see their friend falling more and more ill, and, in a state of denial, claim that he had left behind his unhealthy habits. Hodgkin accompanies this narrative scene with a vibrant and colourful representation, perhaps in an attempt to counteract the dark tones that accompany the characters’ sudden loss of hope.