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Robert Hodgins: The Optimistic Old Sod

The life of Robert Hodgins does not just lie in his art, almost more importantly it lies in the hearts of those close to him. He is described by some as an expressionistic painter and others label him as a graphic artist. Regardless of where he fits, Hodgins’ art makes him a much loved figure in the history books of South African art.

Robert Hodgins was born in Dulwich, London. His earliest encounters with art woud be from his childhood; it has been noted that many of the city’s fine galleries became his hideout during the cold winters in his home city. He went on to finish his schooling career in England before immigrating to South Africa. As a young adult he joined the Union Defence Force and served in various African countries before returning to England where he was discharged at the end of the second World War.

The life of Robert Hodgins, marked with an honest interpretation of life around him.
The life of Robert Hodgins, marked with an honest interpretation of life around him. (photo credit: www.artvault.co.za , pixgood.com, bu.edu)

He spent the first few years of his post-military life studying teaching and art. After returning to South Africa in the mid-fifties, he embarked on a career as a teacher and journalist, culminating in the position of Assistant Editor at “Newsweek” and later on filling the position of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art at the University of Witwatersrand. The university was probably his last employer and ushered in the start of his career as an artist.

Robert Hodgins is revered among his peers, most notably by the South African conceptual artist, Kendell Geers who paid tribute to Hodgins with the following words: “Very few artists command the respect and admiration of their peers in the way Robert Hodgins does, a reverence often verging on cult status.”

Join us for part two as we explore is life as an artist.