Robert Griffiths Hodgins (South African, 1920-2010)
'Braves' bears inscription 'Robert Hodgins, Braves, o/c 2003' (verso) oil on canvas 92 x 121.5cm (36 1/4 x 47 13/16in).
Centrally concerned with figuration, Hodgins is well known for his stock characters pinstriped businessmen, military generals, old molls and other figures of authority subjected to his sardonic wit and detached examination though the 'Braves' of the current lot are less precedented. Formally, the work is stripped down to its essentials. The background is composed of two horizontal bands composed of a neutral palette and divided by a single line. This abstract landscape is punctuated by two lonely teepees on the right, while a smoke signal rises from the left to create a balanced, if typically restrained, composition. Meanwhile, two sparsely articulated Indian "braves" traverse the picture plane.
With the dark, mask-like addition to their anonymous faces, the artist seems to relish the play of the title as both an outmoded noun and a possible comment on their character. Indeed, as Brenda Atkinson has observed, Hodgins always pays acute attention to his titles. He "is not of that generation of artists who title their work Untitled: if words can add one or more possible layers of signification to a painting, he uses them to do so... [he] knows that image and text function powerfully as mutually invested identities".
BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Atkinson, Robert Hodgins, (Cape Town, 2002), p.14