This painting was inspired by Howard Hodgkin’s memory of a visit to Foy Nissen’s apartment. Nissen was the British Council representative in Bombay during the 1970s. Remembered as a charming host, he entertained overseas visitors in his apartment, and often showed them around the city on his Vespa motorbike. As a frequent visitor to India since the mid 1960s, Hodgkin has developed a great affinity for the country and its people, and is a respected collector of Indian miniatures.
In the tropical light of ‘Foy Nissen’s Bombay’, everything appears flat, almost like stage scenery. The overlapping slabs of vibrant oranges, reds and greens evoke his feelings for India rather than depicting an actual view. As Hodgkin has commented, ‘the only way an artist can communicate with the world at large is on the level of feeling.’ One of the most inventive colourists of modern times, Hodgkin uses his palette to create visual equivalents for memories of particular experiences. Straddling abstraction and figuration, the paintings only hint at the events and places suggested in the titles.