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Noel Hodnett: Portraits of the Forgotten

Ballard Lederer Gallery, Vancouver BC
Nov 14-Dec 2

Z.Z. Wei - On the Road AgainNoel Hodnett, Yellow Nude (2002), oil on linen, [Ballard Lederer Gallery, Vancouver BC, Nov 14-Dec 1]

Noel Hodnett has been a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool South African landscape artist” for 30 years. His geographic journeys have covered Eastern Europe, South America and Africa. His paintings were so large and epic in nature that they seemed to explode in the confines of galleries.

The selection of paintings for the current exhibit, mostly sizeable oils on canvas, ranges from poetic allegories through landscapes and figurative pieces to comments on conservation and political events. For example, the huge and startling Requiem for a Friend, a larger-than-life rendering of a symbolic tree, broods and hulks over paintings of a moonlight bush landscape, a fiery abstract homage to Jack Shadbolt, and a narrative, more spiritual image of animals whose gaze is fixed on a strange rock.

Since recently re-locating to British Columbia, Hodnett embarked on a series of portraits. The permeating theme is violence. Most of the subjects are based on historical personages he describes as “victims of conflicts, social engineering, disease, stupidity and greed”. His eerie painterly landscapes and dense bush scenes here give way to depictions of a blue-collar worker, a wrestler, an executed Ukrainian Jew, and two names more prominent from the news, Masha Bruskina and Steve Biko.

© Mia Johnson

 Sun, Nov 3, 2002