Reggie Burrows Hodges - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | Phillips
  • "Figures created by Hodges are made sharper, and more haunting, not because we see those things in their eyes, we see it in their bodies, their postures, the endless desire for humans not to be alone, and to connect. To that Hodges adds all that wonderful blackness."
    —Hilton Als
    Executed in 2019, the present work is an example of Reggie Burrows Hodges’ painterly meditations on identity, memory, and the everyday. Belonging to his Intersection of Color series, the work presents three figures presumably seated at the front row of a skybox. Rendered as silhouettes, their facial features are completely abstracted—only their poses and abstracted setting suggest a pictorial narrative. Here, Hodges’ flat application of rich black pigment to compose his characters starkly contrasts with the gestural and chromatic brushwork of their clothes and background. Coinciding with the artist’s meteoric rise on the global art scene, the present work featured at the artist’s show, Reggie Burrows Hodges: Intersection of Color, at the Press Hotel in 2020.


    Honoré Daumier, Theater Audience, ca. 1856-1860. National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

    While many of the artist’s subjects engage in leisurely activities such as playing sports, dancing, or riding unicycles, the present work is among several pictures within the series that positions his Black figures as observers. As Hodges often looks to his own upbringing in Compton for his work, the present composition perhaps portrays a personal recollection, whilst evoking the spaces of modernity such as theaters and racecourses depicted by 19th-century painters including Honoré Daumier, Édouard Manet, and Mary Cassatt. The Impressionists’ representations of such scenes reflected the voyeuristic observation of daily life through the lens of public spectacle and class privilege, often inviting the viewer into a participatory role through compositional perspective. In Intersection of Color: Suite, Hodges inserts his Black subjects into contemporary dialogue with these tropes, transforming them for the present day through his unique painterly sensibility.

    "I start with a black ground [as a way] of dealing with blackness’s totality. I’m painting an environment in which the figures emerge from negative space…If you see my paintings in person, you’ll look at the depth."
    —Reggie Burrows Hodges

    [left] Helen Frankenthaler, Toward Dark, 1988. Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, New York. Artwork: © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York [right] Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 133, 1975. Sammlung Moderne Kunst, Pinakothek der Moderne, Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich. Image: bpk Bildagentur / Sammlung Moderne Kunst/Pinakothek der Moderne/Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen/Munich/Germany / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2022 Dedalus Foundation, Inc. / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

    In the present work, the artist fuses reminiscences of Color Field and modern American predecessors, at once recalling the palette of Helen Frankenthaler’s Toward Dark and Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 133, as well as the work of Milton Avery and Marsden Hartley. By developing the work’s narrative elements through abstraction rather than refinement, Hodges evokes Avery’s layered storytelling. His figures are shapes conjured from the essential qualities of his medium; the brighter pigments act as a counterpoint to bring unequivocal presence to the black hues that emanate from the painting’s surface. “I’m always drawn to artists that allow black to perform within their paintings and this is a force that draws me to Hartley,” the artist explained. My use of this concept is to enroll the Black figure as a stand-in for humanity.”i Here, Hodges appears to build his compositions around his figural subjects, leaving them as silhouetted forms while painting their attire and inhabited space through his dynamic brushwork. In so doing, he forges an eloquent embodiment of Hilton Als’ words on Hodges’ process: “Seeing as an event.”ii


    Marsden Hartley, Fisherman’s Family, ca. 1943. Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento

    "My practice has been inspired by the study of moments and translating the essence of them through color, figuration, abstraction, and various techniques of mark making…I'm interested in intersecting an internal experience and symbolizing that in my work in order to present a view of my personal heritage and journey."
    —Reggie Burrows Hodges

    By having his figures literally emerge from their surroundings, Hodges ultimately investigates the conceptual relationship between human beings and their environment. This direct painterly dialogue is captured in the hazy atmospheric qualities and faceless figures of Intersection of Color: Suite, which epitomizes his practice of coalescing themes of memory and identity through the act of painting. The work is “an exploration, first and foremost, of that most elemental of the artist’s endeavors: paint,” Als observed of Hodges’ oeuvre. “What this teaches us about [his] painting, in particular, is that he does admit the viewer into his work...once you get past your preconceptions about blackness, and what it’s supposed to mean, either as ‘pure’ paint, or as a figure.”iii The present work encapsulates this vacillation in its very title, capturing the “intersection” of color both in the creation of art and racially charged bodies, reflecting how “history, heart, and meaning imbue every mark [Hodges] makes.”iv


    i Reggie Burrow Hodges, quoted in Suzette McAvoy, “Some Holes Can’t Be Filled,” in Reggie Burrows Hodges, exh. cat., Karma, New York, 2021, p. 17.
    ii Hilton Als, “Nature Abhors a Vacuum,” Reggie Burrows Hodges, exh. cat., Karma, New York, 2021, p. 12.
    iii Ibid.
    iv David Everitt Howe, “Reggie Burrows Hodges,” Artforum, February 18, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Dowling Walsh Gallery, Rockland
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Portland, The Press Hotel, Reggie Burrows Hodges: Intersection of Color, January 17–March 27, 2020


Intersection of Color: Suite

acrylic, oil and pastel on canvas
48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $730,800

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2022