Robert Hodgins

robert hodgins south african artist

Robert Hodgins: Modus operandi: A self-proclaimed "optimistic old sod", Hodgins once described painting to be a "a bit like surfing" in that a good deal of time is spent bobbing about, waiting for the right wave to come along. Having said this, it's not about instant gratification. Where Robert Hodgins was concerned, paintings may only come into their own months or even years after their genesis. But beyond it all, he described being a painter as a "very nice way to live". Not restricted by the need for technical support, for him it was about accepting the responsibility of the mark of one's hand that is negotiated by no one other than oneself, quoting Francis Bacon's words of "courting accidents", but then choosing the ones that work. Another Hodgins maxim is that "subject matter is not content". For Hodgins art was an "auto-intoxication that allows one to live through marriages, divorces, deaths and unhappy love affairs, and come up smiling all the time".

Artist's statement:
"There are paintings that stem from memory and from a sombre look at the human condition. Paintings about the construction and confusion of contemporary urban life, but also paintings about the pleasures of being alive, pleasures that crowd in upon the pessimism everywhere - that crowd in and refuse to be ignored". Robert Hodgins (Goodman Gallery 2000)

"Being an artist is about putting something into your subject matter that isn't inherently there. You are not at the mercy of your subject matter, it's the content, and what you put into it, what you do with it, what extract from it, and what you put it with, that is so exciting. If you are aware of this, then you begin to build on the content of your whole life. Before you know where you are, you're already thinking about the next work, and you could live to be 300. Paintings can be one-night stands or lifetime love-affairs - you never know until you get cracking".
Robert Hodgins

You may remember the remarkable multi-media collaborative work produced with fellow heavyweights William Kentridge and Deborah Bell. Robert Hodgins first exhibited with Bell as early as 1983. Their association began with 'Hogarth in Johannesburg', followed by the 'Little Morals Series', 'Easing the Passing (of the Hours)' and 'Ubu 101', culminating in an exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery marking their 10 year working relationship. But a favourite of Robert Hodgins' was Memo, a stop-frame animation short film directed by Kentridge, in which Hodgins acts as a hapless businessman whose trappings get the better of him in ways which can only be described as Kafka-esque.

As a young child in London, Hodgins used to hide out in the Tate Gallery, where it was "warm and open". Despite having exhibited since the early 1950's, it was 1981 before he was taken really seriously, but the impact was such that a major retrospective was hosted by the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in 1986. An early career highlight was a two-man show with Jan Neethling called 'Pretty Boy Floyd', producing some sixty experimental silkscreens of the gangster and hanging them on washing lines in the gallery. Hodgins cited this as a true "corroboration" of minds.

Robert Hodgins is one of South Africa's leading artists. His work can be found in private and public collections throughout South Africa. He exhibited extensively in Europe and the South Africa. Hodgins worked at The Artists' Press for many years and it was always a pleasure to have Rob's energy, sticky tea buns and humour in the studio. Mark Attwood has a special place at his press for Hodgins as he felt that the "old man" pushed him harder and challenges him more that most other artists. When the printer and artist collaborated the energy in the printshop was tangible. Hodgins used mono prints as his starting point and then developed ones that he liked most into lithographs. He also experimented with hand coloured gravure prints.

With thanks to Kathryn Smith and Artthrob magazine on whose writing this page is based.

Robert Hodgins passed away on the 15th of March 2010 at the age of 89, from lung cancer. His passing has left a huge gap in the studio, his energy, humour and insight will be missed by us all

More prints by Robert Hodgins

Artists at The Artists' Press A to L (by surname)

Artists at The Artists' Press M to X (by surname)

Robert Hodgin's archive



Lithographs 2004-08

Title: Chairmen
Medium: Three colour lithograph
Size: 40.5 x 52.5cm
Edition size: 23
Price: SOLD OUT

Title: Actor
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Size: 76.5 x 57cm
Edition size: 20
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: QED? Right?
Medium: Three colour lithograph
Size: 76.5 x 57cm
Edition size: 20
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: Wrong side-a the tracks
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 76.5 x 57cm
Edition size: 20
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: American Beauty
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Size: 76.5 x 57cm
Edition size: 40
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: Of Thee I Sing.
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Paper size: 76.5 x 57cm
Image size: 70 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 40
Price: R 10 200 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Sergent Major
Medium: Seven colour lithograph
Paper size: 66 x 50cm
Image size: 44 x 40cm
Edition size: 30
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: Yes Yes Sarn Major Sir!
Medium: Four colour chine colle lithograph
Paper size: 50 x 38cm
Image size: 27 x 20cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

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Title: An Uber Something from Upper Somewhere
Medium: Four colour chine colle lithograph
Paper size: 50 x 38cm
Image size: 27x 20cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

Robert Hodgins, investment prints, south african art

Title: Colonel Drunk
Medium: Three colour chine colle lithograph
Paper size: 50 x 38cm
Image size: 27x 20cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

Title: Cow Country Cadet
Medium: Four colour chine colle lithograph
Paper size: 50 x 38cm
Image size: 27x 20cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

Hand-coloured photo gravure prints

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Title:"Too many bloody elephants anyway"
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 38 x 28cm
Image size 25 x 18cm
Edition size:20
Price: SOLD OUT


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Title:"Sevants....Nowadays....Too much..."
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 38 x 28cm
Image size 25 x 18cm
Edition size:20
Price: SOLD OUT


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Title:"Too Amusing"
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 38 x 28cm
Image size 25 x 18cm
Edition size:20
Price: SOLD OUT


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Title: War Boss
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 48 x 38cm
Image size 27 x 20cm
Edition size:20
Price: SOLD OUT


robert hodgins, south african prints, south african art

Title: Coach
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 48 x 38cm
Image size 27 x 20cm
Edition size: 20
Price: SOLD OUT


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Title: Champ
Medium: Hand-coloured photo gravure print
Paper size: 48 x 38cm
Image size 27 x 20cm
Edition size: 20
Price: SOLD OUT


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