Monday, May 12, 2014

Eliot Hodgkin

oil on wood
101.6 x 76.2 cm
Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom

 "In so far as I have any conscious purpose, it is to show the beauty of natural objects which are normally thought uninteresting or even unattractive: such things as Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide. People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before." (Hodgkin)

Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) was an English painter, born in Purley Lodge, Purley-on-Thames near Pangbourne, Berkshire. He was a painter of small fruit and flower pieces, also landscapes and mural decorations, and writer. By the middle of the 1930s, he had established himself as a painter of still lifes and landscapes, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy.
Hodgkin began painting in tempera in about 1937, using a medium based on a recipe given to him by his friend and former teacher.Although he began with oil painting, most of his finest works were in tempera, specializing in highly detailed still lifes. "Tempera has no attraction for me simply because it was used by the Italian primitives, most of whose work does not greatly appeal to me. I use it because it is the only way in which I can express the character of the objects that fascinate me. With oil paint I could not get the detail without getting also a disagreeable surface: moreover I should have to wait while the paint dried before continuing." (Hodgkin)

During World War II, he was working in the Home Intelligence Division of the Ministry of Information, and proposed making some drawings of plants growing in London's bomb sites. In 1959 he turned down the opportunity of becoming an Academician, but continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy throughout his career, exhibiting a total of 113 paintings at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition exhibitions between 1934 and 1981.

During the last years of his life, he suffered from a crippling diseased, described as an ataxia of unknown origin. In 1979, he stopped painting because of worsening eyesight. He died in 1987 at the age of 81 and is buried at St John's Notting Hill. "I like to show the beauty of things that no one looks at twice." (Hodgkin)