I missed the opening of Howard Hodgkin’s exhibition Absent Friends and have only just caught up with it, remembering poignantly that the exhibition coincided with his death. I was particularly interested to see his portrait of the dealer, Peter Cochrane, which was accepted by the NPG in lieu in 2010. It’s definitely a portrait and a fine one. Elsewhere, one of the captions says that Hodgkin didn’t like talking about art and he certainly may always have been reticent, but it’s worth remembering that he became a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 1970 which will have required him to talk about art. I prefer, as everyone does, his pictures post-1975 when his style suddenly loosens and becomes more freely imaginative, described by Hodgkin himself as ‘more about myself now, or incidents which personally involved me, at least’. He carried on painting right until his end.