In a new group of paintings, Kamloops artist Robin Hodgson investigates the psychological and emotional nature of post-able-body life. Through his large-scale colourful compositions, Hodgson incorporates autobiographical moments with broader narratives about the global pandemic. Health and life challenges have been heightened for everyone during the pandemic; through his new work Hodgson explores his personal physical and psychological well-being in relation to those in similar situations. 

The exhibition title, Sailing Pretty Close to the Wind, plays on a common aphorism that recalls the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun and refers to actions on the edge of acceptable behaviour. In the artist’s case, living on the edge as a young person resulted in a life-long disability. This selection of work combines abstraction and representational imagery in which Hodgson looks back on his life.

Hodgson’s paintings are intuitive, with spontaneous application and vigorous brush strokes often layered over areas of fine detail and text. These layers reveal and evoke ideas reconsidered or purposefully left obscured, yet not entirely erased, suggesting a past left behind but not forgotten. Compositionally, Hodgson’s work is influenced by the drama and symbolism of Renaissance painting. His process builds on the practice and subconscious imagery of other artists of influence, including Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Through his experimental and adaptive painting process, Hodgson seeks not only to transcend his disability but to find a connection between himself and the viewer.

Hodgson creates conceptual paintings where the process and the outcome are equally important, and he often experiments with new devices and tools to paint beyond the scale of his own body movements. Working from a wheelchair, he has invented and adapted a number of tools to overcome his mobility restrictions, with the additional help of his assistants. His continued experimentation aims to develop a painting style unique to his disability, while expanding on the already existing history of notable artists within the disabled community. 

Robin Hodgson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Thompson Rivers University. In 2019, Hodgson received the Kamloops Mayor’s Award for the Arts as Emerging Artist of the Year. 

Craig Willms, Kamloops Art Gallery