The Easel

20th October 2020

Recollected works – ‘Howard Hodgkin: Memories’, reviewed

How might one paint fleeting sensations and memories? With great deliberation, in the case of Hodgkin. By mid-career, when many of these works were made, he was resourceful at deploying painterly tricks – characteristic marks, deft handling of paint, “sensuous” brushstrokes, “flamboyant” colours. When all these came together Hodgkin was able to reveal his true preoccupation, the “evasiveness of reality”.

13th October 2020

The National Gallery offers a powerful but partial view of transgression

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory helpfully listed seven deadly sins. Are they still deadly? Sinfulness these days carries mild connotations – a second helping of chocolate cake. Most religious concepts of sin which permeate European art history no longer resonate. A London show reveals a single exception: the one such concept that resonates as much as ever is the scapegoat.

The art of the kimono

For something quintessentially Japanese, the kimono has a surprisingly eclectic history. Indian cotton was the sought-after kimono fabric in the early 17th century. Later came French brocade. When Japan fully opened to trade in 1853, a fascination with Western tastes saw male demand for the garment collapse. Still, the kimono remains distinctive. Rather than accentuating body curves, it is “all surface”, perfect for flaunting expensive fabric and designs.