Collage has been an important process and conceptual framework for Gregory Hodge’s wider painting practice. In his series Spectator and the Pit, Hodge presents a set of new acrylic paintings on canvas and a suspended painted cut-out that utilizes new processes and techniques signalling a further expansion into the artist’s unique visual language that playfully explores the space between image and reality, representation and abstraction. Where Hodge’s earlier paintings were trompe-l’oeil renderings of abstract collages, this new body of work is informed by three dimensional suspended constructions arranged in the studio that became source material for new paintings.
These new works engage with the avant-garde movements of Cubism and the Italian Futurists who experimented with a dynamic abstract form of theatre in which light, colour and architectural forms stood in for the performing body on stage. The suspended cut-outs comprise of painted abstract gestures and coloured forms hanging in space from a simple structure. These suspended elements become interchangeable enabling innumerable combinations and compositions. While each singular cut-out embodies formal abstract qualities, collectively they become suggestive of both the familiar and the unreal. Abstract gestures resemble folded drapery, foliage, elaborate performing figures, puppets and theatre sets.
The paintings on canvas transform these hanging constructions into illusionary abstractions via complex and systematic technical processes. Working from life as well as from photographs, each painting reveals and acknowledges every detail of a previous hanging structure. The dramatic shadows cast onto and through these hanging motifs alludes to projected light and architectural space.
In History Puppets (2017), trompe-l’oeil renderings of suspended abstract gestures weave in and around orange, black and blue forms. Slight tonal variations in colour allude to shifting light across the structures’ surface while a delicately painted cast shadow appears like a ghostly silhouette to create a fascinating shift in perception of two and three- dimensional space. The acutely rendered illusion of thin wire acts as both a compositional ploy in the painting while also appearing as if tentatively holding each element in place.