Currently at Karma, a string of minimal, subdued figures and landscapes stretch across the walls, dotting the gallery space with a string of delicately rendered scenes and situations. The work is that of artist Reggie Burrows Hodges, marking his first exhibition in New York, and offering an introduction to his lyrical, singular approach towards the canvas.
Hodges creates paintings centered on the human form, imbuing his subjects with the mystery and significance of remembered scenes or recollected stories. Hodges begins a painting by laying down a matte black ground, circumscribing the contours of his figures in passages of acrylic and pastel. Leaving the faces and other individualizing features of his silhouetted subjects largely undefined, they emerge through the hazy, soft-focus environments that Hodges builds from the ground up with painterly brushwork in luminous palettes.
Some of Hodges’ protagonists are physically active while others exert themselves through attentive contemplation, conveying a feeling of cinematic drama realized through his uniquely painted vision. The works present a colorful stretch of canvas space, yet equally offer the viewer an engaging, yet meditative space. In On Your Mark: Lean In athletes run and hurdle through space while in Community Concern a dancer is represented mid-step, composed to convey tremendous energy, poise, and grace. In the On the Verge paintings, a lone figure on a unicycle enacts dramas of balance—both physiological and compositional. In each, the body and its movement is foregrounded, yet posed in a way to emphasize the body’s same grace and poise.
In contrast to the active motion of Hodges’ other subjects in the exhibition, the Seated Listener paintings represent individuals who are still and centered, actively engaged in listening. Hodges’ works benefit from close, careful looking, one that reveals conceptual relationships between recollection and reality; between people and systems they inhabit; between juxtaposed swatches of color and spaces. Entering into intimate relationship with the space of the canvas, and with a subtle joy for the act of painting, the canvas welcome both painter and viewer into shared sense of the viewed event, one where detail and context give way to the joys of seeing.
The show closes February 28th.
– D. Creahan
Reggie Burrows Hodges [Exhibition Site]