Though Howard’s artworks eschew realism, the artist drew inspiration from what he saw around him.
Celebrated painter Howard Hodgkin’s partner visited the city to reminisce about the artist’s contribution to the British Council in India, his fondness for the country and his Mumbai-connect.
The British Council chose to end their 70th-anniversary celebrations with a talk that honoured a man who has contributed greatly to their own cultural heritage as well as that of India’s. The person in question is Howard Hodgkin, Britain’s foremost contemporary painter and printmaker and the artist behind the mesmerising monochrome mural that decorates the façade of British Council’s Delhi office. At a talk held at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, his partner of 33 years, Antony Peattie deconstructed the mural, while also shedding light on Howard’s fondness for India, particularly Mumbai, where he painted his last works before his demise in 2017.
“Public commissions were important to Howard, because they gave him a chance to leave the isolation of the studio and engage in a creative collaborative pursuit,” shares Antony, as he speaks about Howard’s collaboration with Indian architect, Charles Correa, who designed the building that became the headquarters of the British Council in India. The wraparound mural, made of white marble and black stone, seems to germinate from within the austere, geometric confines of the structure. When viewed from the outside, it reeks of abstraction — a key feature of Howard’s work.