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The Legacy of Robert Hodgins

Robert Hodgins described painting like surfing; much time is spent bobbing about, waiting for the right wave to come. Herewith noting the nature of creating art, often a lengthy process instead of instant gratification. This is a typical Hodgins analogy, finding the most unlikely comparisons to art.

After having a late start as an artist, Hodgins spent the early 80s on a series of paintings depicting Alfred Jarry’s Ubu character. (Read our previous posts incase you missed out)  He continued referring to himself as a “young artist”, despite his advancing years. During this time he enjoyed experimenting with various media and techniques. In this way he could stay relevant and exhibitions always offered something new, rather than predictable retrospectives, as many artists do once they reach a certain point in their careers.

He quickly became a much loved feature on the South African art scene. Collaborating with the very well-known William Kentridge and Deborah Bell in Hogarth in Johannesburg (1987) and The Little Morals Series (1991).

(photo credit: www.hypocritedesign.com, www.goodman-gallery.com)
(photo credit: www.hypocritedesign.com, www.goodman-gallery.com)

A self-proclaimed optimistic old sod is indicative of his nature and character. He was witty and sharp, verbal banter with Robert was considered a treat. An opportunity to dine with Mr. Hodgins was considered to be nourishment for the soul as much as for the body.

Robert’s art is extensively represented in museums and corporate collections throughout South Africa, various private collections also boast a number of his pieces. The Wits Art galleries have a significant portion of his artwork, including a number of major paintings donated to the institution by the artist himself. To this end Wits University takes great pleasure in bestowing a Doctorate of Literature on Mr. Robert Hodgins.

Robert passed away on 15 March 2010, after a short battle with cancer. He is not only remembered for his significant contribution to South African art, but also for his witty and often humorous outlook on life.

Some of the tributes that poured in on his passing came from Deborah Bell , Art on Paper Gallery and and www.artslink.co.za .