As a printmaker, Hodgkin challenged the format, techniques and expressive potential of print media. He first began making prints in 1953; his early work was predominantly executed in lithography and screenprinting. In the span of six decades, Hodgkin experimented with the full spectrum of printmaking producing over 140 works on paper. In his later years, he favoured the use of printmaking methods that enabled him to work in a more painterly manner: soft ground etching, aquatint and carborundum combined with hand-painting in pure often unmixed colour.
Soft-ground etching is about the most immediate medium imaginable- more immediate than drawing or painting, because it’s just the plate covered with grease which can be easily removed or worked into, with almost fatal facility. —Howard Hodgkin
Though his works often appear spontaneous, they are often the result of an extensive process of layering and over-painting. The intricate interplay between printed and painted marks imbues the prints with a powerful physicality and complexity.
I want the language to be as impersonal as possible.. It’s a major concern of mine that every mark I put down should not be a piece of personal autograph but just a mark, which then can be used with any other to contain something. I want to make marks that are anonymous as well as autonomous. —Howard Hodgkin