Tatjana Pieters is proud to announce the two first solo shows at the gallery by British painter Clive Hodgson (b. 1953) and American sculptor Michael Ross (b. 1954). Both exhibitions feature new works from 2016.
Clive Hodsgon is based in London and has exhibited his work extensively since the 1980s. Recent solo & duo exhibitions include: Clive Hodg- son at Bruce Haines, London (UK), 2016, Clive Hodgson & Matthew Higgs, Wilkinson Gallery, London (UK), 2015, at White Columns, New York (US), 2014, and at Carlton Place, Glasgow (UK), 2012. His work was recently included in group exhibitions at Murray Guy, New York (US), The Approach, London (UK), Timothy Taylor Gallery, London (UK) and Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (BE).
Clive Hodgson’s early engagement with abstract painting was followed by a period of figuration, and then a return to abstraction. His work characteristically employs simple structures and reveals a longstanding interest in decorative and ornamental elements and their relation to the possibly loftier tradition of abstract painting. Traditionally used as an architectural enhancement in the form of borders and friezes, these decoratif motifs represent a kind of ‘outside’ of painting, where the ideological weight of meaningfulness and morality is lifted – Hodgson has referred to this as ‘rampant vacuity’.
Hodgson makes paintings in which he takes up ideas about painting itself, in terms of its structures, techniques and effects. These are exposed as a content which needs no narrative support or justification – an encounter with what the painting is, rather than what it might be. His touch is light and his compositions airy and loose. His forms and marks feel impulsive yet locked in by virtue of their gestural authority. His working method is intuitive and seeks freedom from restrictions and formulae. The only prominent and recurring motifs in his essentially abstract paintings are the date of making and the artist’s name or signature.
Hodgson’s work has its own dialectical quality. Ideas that are explored for a while as solutions to a perceived problem, become a problem that needs yet another solution. If certain paintings have such and such qualities, he seems to say, what would paintings be like that varied or changed those qualities? There is a sense of recurring action and reaction, a stressed reconfiguration that is without ultimate stability. In this way his work is like a fountain, constantly creating new possibilities for itself and for the artist. For example, after a period of paintings that engage with a kind of ‘emptiness’, the pressing question arises of what sort of ‘fullness’ might replace it. Possibly, neither of these conditions is without emotional or philosophical connotation, though the ‘Hodgson’ of the signature remains enigmatic.
In his most recent work ambiguous shapes often simultaneously suggest abstract and domestic motifs. In one of the paintings we see the direct imprints of a sponge. The resulting image looks incidental, with the composition left to chance. Here, painting is reduced to an elemental act, but we also get reminded again of his interest in decoration with its almost pattern-like surfaces.
I thought of painting as a very wide field — I didn’t want to narrow down. I still like the idea that all sorts of things are possible. Also, maybe naïvely, I felt that I wanted my work to be “mine,” concerned with my experience of the world. I have good intentions but find that most of my ideas are banal and repetitive. There is a vast weight of art history and current art to negotiate. The problem doesn’t get any easier — I find myself in a permanent state of crisis within which I feel I must be able to find at least some scraps of something that seems viable and vital.
Keeping going is a challenge, but also where the pleasure might lie. Empty canvases are beautifully full of potential and very easily become disgusting. In driving terms, my method is like repeatedly going for a drive and crashing the car each time, because one time you didn’t crash and saw some nice parts of Cornwall.