“Pregnant Woman is another deceptively light-hearted example of Hodgins’ talent for a turn of phrase. Exhibited in 1998 on his enormously energetic solo show at the Goodman Gallery, the work consisted of four canvases joined vertically and hinged so that the third canvas from the top – depicting the woman’s belly – jutted out from the wall in angular parody. The pregnant woman herself was a distraught frump in candy stripes, hair blurred, skinny arms rigid with any number of suppressed emotions, her ankles swollen and pink. With wonderful insight into the pregnant woman’s ambivalence about her own condition, Hodgins had set this one off-balance: one green shoe was all platform-heeled glamour, the other simply a flat slipper. On the uppermost canvas, above her head, he inscribed the legend ‘Women’s Ward’. A peek around her back revealed that Hodgins had written about his naming dilemma on the back of the canvas: titles like Oh No, Not Again and It’s Too Late Now To Forget You had been abandoned as ‘too frivolous’. Although he seldom uses titles to state the obvious, Hodgins’ arrival at the title Pregnant Woman allowed its subject to emanate emotional conflict and physical discomfort. In this instance, by opting for textual understatement, Hodgins avoided crowding the image, instead leaving the busy stripes and distracted hair to speak – volubly and convincingly – of the complex ‘condition’ of pregnancy, including but not restricted to accidents of conception and issues of paternity.”1
1 Fraser, Sean (ed.), Robert Hodgins, Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2002, pages 15-16.
Fraser, Sean (ed.), Robert Hodgins, Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2002, page 15, illustrated in colour.