‘’The great image has no form.’’
Tao-tö King, XLI
Galerie Fatiha Selam is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of recent work by english born, Paris based artist John HODGKINSON
John HODGKINSON displays a series of five white boards and five blue-toned boards, all of them produced on plaster slabs of equal dimensions. The white boards are also plaster-coated. Each blue piece is a white piece which was sanded before being scratched with graphite and colour pencil.
The series is inspired by those hastily whitewashed shop windows. The method is used by workers covering up glass windows so as to make them opaque, thus informing passers-by that — temporarily — there is nothing to see. The gesture must be fluid, it needs to cover up the surface as fast as it can. A well-done work would be to have an opaque window having not wasted too much time.
The objective for the painter is not to unlearn, and find the awkward grace of a child’s gesture, a gesture without technique. On the contrary, this is all about learning to master the rhythmic and un-retouched technique of the worker, sparing himself any superfluous movement. This mastering demands a certain degree of mental abstraction, which the artist experiences through the taoïst notion of «non-action» (wu wei), which advocates the absence of anticipation in action, and the exact and minimal effort made at the opportune moment, responding to the surrounding (and, lets say, cosmic) energy.
In order to recreate the powdery, imperfect opacity of whitewash on glass, and to keep close to the materials used on a construction site, John Hodgkinson uses plaster. Furthermore : he paints with plaster on plaster, impregnating the surface with the material, and vice versa. The rigidity of plaster slabs which are the surface of the work, and their common use in the final stage of interior walls and ceilings of buildings, underlines the kinship of these pieces with the fresco technique which foreshadows the realisation of larger works.
The white paintings have something of clouds, of dawn (alba). The blue ones resemble evening; sky getting darker. ‘Album’ — the title of this series — means «white sur- face, white picture» in latin (from albus, «white»). The rectangular form of some of the white paintings is underlined by a more or less tightly spaced grid of straight lines, which seems to be suggesting a primordial structure preceding and announcing the swarming of blue hatching.
Through the window, there is nothing to see ; there remains, as a consolation, a worker’s lightly dancing gesture, performed in haste (and maybe with some kind of pleasure), midway between tougher tasks. This gesture is without anger, without expression, neutral in the way Roland Barthes uses it : suspended, untenable, endlessly harmonising the «maximum interior intensity»* with the minimum of external effects.
Manon Lutanie, 2013
*Roland Barthes, Le Neutre, Éd. du Seuil, p. 249
John HODGKINSON was born in rural Lincolnshire (England), 1989. He went to art school in London, where he attended Chelsea and Saint Martins studying Fine Art. Becoming disillusioned with ‘the hollow academic construct’, he quit his degree after two years. Following this, he went to work in the studio of Sandro Chia, with whom he developed a close relationship. It was during this period that he saw what it took and what it meant to be an artist.’I was seeing closely what the experience was of being an artist in that way…..but I was not inside it yet myself.This led him to travel to Colombia for several months, where he did an artists residency. Although still broadly exploring his language, many ‘values about painting and being a painter’ became more clear. For the past two years, John HODGKINSON has been living and working in Paris.
2007-8 Foundation Diploma, Chelsea School of Art 2008-10 Fine Art, Central Saint Martins School of Art2011 Studio Assistant to Sandro Chia, Rome2012 Travelled in Colombia, also making an artists residency at Campos de Gutierrez 2013 -solo show – Galerie Gatiha Selam
Sprezzatura [sprettsaˈtura] is an Italian word originating from Baldassare Castiglione‘s The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. It is the ability of the courtier to display “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them”.Sprezzatura has also been described “as a form of defensive irony: the ability to disguise what one really desires, feels, thinks, and means or intends behind a mask of apparent reticence and nonchalance”.The word has entered the English language; the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “studied carelessness”.