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Etching with hand coloring in watercolor (a yellow wash) and gouache (in green), on Stoneridge mould-made etching paper. Signed by the artist with initials and dated 1980 lower center in black crayon; numbered lower left in black crayon.
The intended title for this print was “Those F***ing Plants,” an excerpt from a conversation Hodgkin had overheard. Around each corner of the print, a brilliant stripe of green outlines the image field, as if the viewer were looking through an eye, or peering through a frame. The back of a figure’s head is printed in dark red. Quick brushstrokes form the stem and leaves of plants, silhouetted by window blinds.
This atmospheric image expresses Hodgkin’s lifelong attempt to capture single moments in time and infuse them with feeling and observation. Through his extensive collaborations with Petersburg Press, Hodgkin began to use hand coloring as a means to charge his images with urgency, and create a complex play between layers and techniques.
Much of Hodgkin’s work in the late 70s and early 80s features moody interior scenes. The human form is reduced to a bust, or obscured by layers of ink. He combined wide swaths of shadow with fluid and spontaneous marks to create ambiguous spatial arrangements. Though parts of this particular composition are recognizable, the narrative behind Those…Plants remains mysterious.