06 December 2013

Susan Sontag on Howard Hodgkins #7

There's one just ahead… or nearby… or over there…

And perhaps not in the obvious place, such as a museum or collector's living room; it may be on the wall of a restaurant or a hotel lobby.
But wherever we see it, we know what it is. We may not know which one. But we know, even from across the room who did it.

In contrast to the painting of earlier eras, this is one of the regulating aspects of the experience - and making - of art in this century. Each artist is responsible for creating his or her unique "vision" - a signature style, of which each work is an example. A style is equivalent to a pictorial language of maximum distinctiveness: what declares itself as that artist's language, and nobody else's. To re-use again and again the same gestures and forms is not deemed a failure of imagination in a painter (or choreographer) as it might be in a writer. Repetitiveness seems like intensity. Like purity. Like strength.

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