Robert Griffiths Hodgins (South African, 1920-2010)
Landscape bears inscription 'Robert Hodgins, Landscape, oil over graphite 2003' (verso) oil and graphite on canvas 92 x 121.5cm (36 1/4 x 47 13/16in).
Raised in depression-era London, Robert Hodgins spent a lot of time in art museums, which were "warm, free and dry". The works he saw offered him visions of other realities, other possibilities: "fragmentary, small happenings of extraordinariness in the grey block of my life". An acclaimed painter and master satirist, Hodgins never allowed anyone including himself to take themselves too seriously, and his work, accordingly, wards off pessimism (despite its often incisive commentary), always providing intense bursts of visual pleasure and wry delight.
Although he emigrated to South Africa in 1938, military service and formal studies would take him abroad for many years. Hodgins began belatedly to paint after he relocated permanently to South Africa in the 1950s. In 1966, he took up a lectureship in the Fine Arts Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. He produced only a low volume of work during these teaching years, yet, significantly, Esmé Berman suggests that Hodgins' "enduring association with the university began a new chapter of professional commitment, as mentor to a generation of aspiring artists". This "new chapter" cannot be underestimated, given the extent of his influence on young artists (as well as collaborators such as William Kentridge and Deborah Bell) and his impact on the South African art world more generally. Nevertheless, it was at the age of 63, at his retirement, that Hodgins would come into his own, finally able to devote his time entirely to his own work.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Atkinson, Robert Hodgins, (Cape Town, 2002)