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The Independent Culture

Howard Hodgkin


Hodgkin's lush, seemingly abstract paintings are actually intensely coloured evocations of people and places. Based on sketches, they are painted on wood, spilling across the frames, and are reworked over several years.

Bryan Robertson revelled in "an intensely enjoyable and engrossing experience ... life-enhancing and directly connected with the great humanist tradition." "Ravishing ... the best paintings by one of the most indisputably great modern painters," gasped the Mail on Sunday. "A marvellously abandoned painter whose brilliance as a colourist enables his work to sing," gloried The Times. "Works like this come not from the head but from the heart" exulted The Telegraph.

At the Hayward Gallery, South Bank, SE1 (0171-960 4242), to 23 Feb.

An overwhelmingly powerful, deeply emotional experience. Compulsory viewing.


A Midsummer Night's Dream

Jonathan Miller relocates Shakespeare's comedy to a 1930s world of rundown socialites with Princess Di-style lovers mirrored by faded aristocratic fairies. With Sylvestra le Touzel, Angus Wright and Toby Jones.

Paul Taylor berated a "joyless" production, "the most thuddingly prosaic gloss on the English class system you've ever witnessed". "Only a fool could find it serious, revealing or funny," thundered the FT. "By the end Miller's vision is showing a touch of glaucomic fuzziness, but there is bright clarity enough in the centre to satisfy," decided The Times. "Clear as a bell... Miller's observant, inventive class comedy delights," nodded The Standard. "A triumph," squealed the Mail.

Almeida Theatre, London N1 (0171-359 4404), to 1 Feb.

Mostly unfunny, with no poetic magic. Like an Esther Williams movie without water.


101 Dalmatians

Disney's classic becomes a live-action movie with Joely Richardson, Jeff Daniels and Glenn Close in Anthony Powell's outlandish costumes as Cruella De Vil doing for dogs what she did for rabbits in Fatal Attraction.

Adam Mars-Jones was haunted by the spectre of Home Alone but admitted to "comic" and "thrilling" moments. "Hasn't director Stephen Herek seen Babe? Patchy," growled Time Out. "Audiences will have a reasonably good time. Does the film bring all the rewards of its predecessor? Unfortunately, no," barked the Times. "The Christmas treat with spots on," yelped the Standard. "Close must have studied at the Fenella Fielding school for rococco lip movement," panted the FT.

At every available cinema screen in the land. Parents beware: the merchandise is in every store.

The dogs don't speak but the product placement is first-rate, ie Daniels and Richardson read The Independent.


Domingo sings Wagner

Placido Domingo celebrated his Silver Jubilee at Covent Garden with his British Wagner debut, singing Siegmund in Richard Jones's production of Die Walkure, conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Edward Seckerson was mightily impressed. "He sang splendidly ... His final moments with Sieglinde were quite extraordinarily beautiful. You can't put a price on singing like that." "As beautifully sung a Siegmund as you could hope to hear. He entered fully into both

the spirit and the letter of the unconventional production," cheered The Times. "Will he please stop acting like a superstar, settle down for a couple of months and give us his Tristan?" prayed The Telegraph.

A one-off performance, alas.

A typically musical performance from an artist who more than lives up to the hype.