Verso: Signed, titled and dated by artist: “Robert Hodgins, Model and Abstract Painting, 2000/2001, R.G Hodgins”
Robert Hodgins loved to paint. As Michael Godby explains, “He would want his insistent expression of the desire to paint, and his rigorous working routine, to be understood, not as acknowledgement that time may be short, but as simple statements that he feels most fulfilled in his studio, that he is most alive when he is painting”. This love for painting and being in his studio clearly evident in his work.
Through a skillful mix of abstract form and sketchy linear depiction, Hodgins draws attention to the process of painting, presenting a scene that suggests the artist’s studio. Shapes and colours converge to create a figure who we might assume to be the artist’s model. Seated in front of a shape that implies a canvas, the figure is both part of the painting and part of the space that surrounds it. Expressive marks escape the canvas and enter the space as well. The space is rendered in a warm pink wash and a sketchy horizon line. Another figure appears to the right of the scene, and is partly obscured by the edge of the painted field. One might imagine this figure to be the artist pacing up and down as he reflects on the next creative move. What looks like a suit – a popular symbol of Hodgins – could be a painting overall.
Whilst different from his well-known critiques on humankind and society, this work reveals Hodgins’ characteristic irony and wit, as well as his relish of paint.
Hodgins’ reflections on his painting practice seem pertinent to his work, “Being an artist is about putting something into your subject matter that isn’t inherently there. You are not at the mercy of your subject matter, it’s the content, and what you put into it, what you do with it, what you extract from it and what you put it with that is so exciting. If you are aware of this, then you begin to build on the content of your whole life”.