Howard Hodgkin was one of the last century’s greatest painters. Now, a new show at London’s National Portrait Gallery persuasively argues that Hodgkin should also be canonized as one of its greatest portraitists. "Absent Friends" includes works that span from 1949 to 2016. In this affecting video interview, the show’s organizer and NPG senior curator Paul Moorhouse explains how, as Hodgkin evolved as an artist, he increasingly abstracted what people meant to him, representing people in his pictures through memories, evocations, and feelings. His viscerally intense works (like Absent Friends, the 2000–01 painting that gave the show its title), in which the aching feelings of presence, memory, and loss become increasingly palpable over time, argue most eloquently for Hodgkin as a sophisticated portraitist.