Gregory Hodge is a practitioner of the illusionary qualities of Flemish trompe-l’oeil and cites Italian Baroque ceiling frescoes as an influence. What is unusual about these starting points for an accomplished painter is that primarily, his practice sits within the framework of abstraction. The effect?
Containing both illusionistic space “which relates to a figurative tradition,” explains Hodge, combined with painting that “recalls the history of abstraction”, is a strategic contradiction in his practice. Art is often viewed in reproduction, on the page or as pixels, and in the case of Hodge’s work, this gives away nothing about the surface and materiality. Frankly, it’s impossible to say if the work is a collage or a sculpture without access to the clues about its process, visible only at close inspection.
“Illusionistic surfaces often compel a viewer to attempt to work out how it was made,” says Hodge.
In his latest solo show, eight new large-scale paintings will be shown along with two sculptures featuring painted cut-outs on aluminium composite panel. Following on from earlier enquiries, Hodge continues to reference architectural or geographical forms, though he suggests he is edging ever closer to representational and figurative painting.
As a blueprint for his new paintings, Hodge first created collages based on sculptures of figurative busts – layering images of sculpture and negative silhouettes on an abstract composition. The resulting paintings echo the shape of the sculptural bust and the shallow relief provided by the collage. The Wollongong-based artist will take his particular working methods abroad in October, when he will head to the Cité internationale des arts in Paris as the recipient of the 2018 Art Gallery of New South Wales Denise Hickey Memorial Studio residency.
This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Art Guide.