THOMAS SHERLOCK HODGSON, R.C.A.
Private Collection, Stouffville, ON
Iris Nowell, Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art, Douglas & McIntyre, Toronto, 2011, page 8.
“For me, process is more important than content,” Tom Hodgson (1924-2006) has said. “In fact, the process of painting is the subject of the painting.” A long career of experimental and varied practice produced a body of work that ranged from drawing to collage, figuration to landscape. Most evocative was his expressionist painting, utilising bold gestures done in bright palettes to push the limits between material and form. We can readily feel this experimental energy in M8, with a canvas that has been abundantly overlaid with forceful scripts of colour. Produced around the time of the dissolution of Painters Eleven, this is a fine example of how Hodgson continued to explore the evocative possibilities of Abstract Expressionism.
Streaming brushstrokes flit around the canvas, accumulating in tangled knots before spinning off in frantic streaks. A mass of deep red gives way to bands of yellow and pink, burnished greens give way to a ray of icy verdigris. The most conspicuous of these are several sweeping lines of white, which seem to have been applied in a relatively careful calligraphy. For Hodgson, the importance of painting lays in its process, and its ability to directly capture the intensity of expression. The wet drips, hurried scrapes, and skittering brush marks that cover the canvas are self-assured documents of the artist’s energetic movements.