Live Auction, 7 October 2019
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About this Item
Although not central to his practice, Still Life plays a vital role in Robert Hodgins’ oeuvre. Usually animated by all manner of figures, some brooding and ominous, others quiet and composed, little attention is paid by the viewer to the mise-en-scène of his paintings. In Still Life with Cheval Mirror, Hodgins shifts his focus to the environment itself, illustrating why he is still regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost colourists.
Using a flattened wash of bright pink to ground this rose-tinted interior, Hodgins plays with the viewer’s expectations of space and depth by revealing the central table’s reflection in the cheval mirror to the right of the picture. Hardly noticeable at first glance, this new perspective rendered in a cool baby blue, embedded at the edges of the composition, allows Hodgins the room to create another interior dimension that gestures beyond the borders of the picture.
This joyful take on the traditional genre of Still Life painting reveals Hodgins innate sense of pleasure in the physical qualities of paint and colour. With a light touch he uses the softest dabs of lemon yellow to animate the objects that adorn his central composition, whilst the shadows of the mirror and door are edged in subtle lines of receding blue. As Kendell Geers writes, “being both verb and adjective, Hodgins’ oeuvre is best understood in terms of play – the hide-and-seek play of forms, a game of eternal youth, a theatre of paint, the coy playfulness of meaning trapped behind mercurial forms”. 1
- Kendell Geers (2002) ‘Undiscovered at 82’, in Brenda Atkinson et al., Robert Hodgins, Cape Town: Tafelberg. Page 67.