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Howard Hodgkin: The Hospital Room Was Choked With Flowers - Signed Print

The Hospital Room Was Choked With Flowers
Signed Print

Howard Hodgkin


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Intaglio, 1991
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 29cm x W 64cm

Joe Syer

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Critical Review

The Hospital Room Was Chocked with Flowers constitutes the fourth plate that Hodgkin realised following the publication of his dear friend Susan Sontag’s seminal book, The Way We Live Now. Sontag’s book was written as a personal response by the writer to the AIDS pandemic and the way its dissemination had tainted the lives of the gay community with anxiety and fear. The main character of the book is an anonymous man who suddenly falls ill with AIDS. As he lays in his hospital room, each day closer to death, the man is surrounded by his close effects, as well as by ex-lovers and acquaintances who grow increasingly close to him.

Hodgkin’s plates accompany the narration. Following his In Touch, Checking In, which is surprisingly representational, Hodgkin returned through this print to a more abstract and evocative language of colours and forms. While the red dots punctuating the image are clear allusions to the flowers the man receives following his hospitalisation, the overlay of greens, blacks and oranges confuses the representation and invokes the sense of suffocation felt by the man so clearly described by Sontag in the book. As much as in Sontag’s book as in Hodgkin’s visual vocabulary, flowers become emblems not only of affection and solidarity but also, as perceived by the dying man, of loss and irrevocable disease.

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