Reggie Burrows Hodges - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 7, 2024 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • “Hodges begins by painting a raw canvas black. Then he paints figures and their atmosphere on top of that. His hand is everywhere in the work, in control but not controlling. Shall we call Hodges's work controlled bleeding?”
    —Hilton Als

    Capturing a quiet pause in the rapid back and forth of a tennis match, Maine-based painter Reggie Burrows Hodges’ Single Source belongs to an important body of work focussed on the sport as a way of drawing out broader themes related to identity, memory, and community. Himself a talented tennis player and coach, Hodges understands the role that sport plays in bringing and binding communities together, his anonymous figures functioning as ‘characters in a giant narrative about American life as it is played out in games and loneliness.’i In their focus on the anonymous Black figure at leisure, they also place the artist in dialogue with a history of painting that has largely neglected such narratives and affirmative representations of Black presence.


    With a grounding in the disciplines of film and theatre, Hodges’ paintings retain a powerful capacity for visual storytelling, his enigmatic compositions hinting at characters, scenarios, and interactions beyond the immediate mise-en-scène. As is characteristic of Hodges’ evocative paintings, the figures are anonymous here, their features obscured, and their bodies turned away from us. In this respect, Hodges’ compositions draw certain comparisons to Édouard Vuillard’s quietly intimate scenes of everyday life and leisure, their flattened forms and somewhat awkward perspectival arrangements granting them a sense of unguarded immediacy. Adopting too Vuillard’s sinuous, exaggerated sense of line, the bending figure at the centre of the composition holds our attention, the deep black form contrasting sharply to the chalky pastel tones and rigid horizontals that maintain a sense of pictorial structure.  


    Édouard Vuillard, The Flowered Dress, 1891, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

    Most strikingly, Hodges’ vivid compositions emerge from black pigment, the artist first covering the white canvas with an inky black ground to which he adds layers of colour and white accents to draw out forms and pictorial structure. In this respect his figures emerge from and are fundamentally constituted of blackness and, in doing so, he ‘decouples Blackness as racial identity from black as a colour, one that absorbs all of the light around it.’ii Of this important painterly decision Hodges’ explains: ‘I start with a black background [as a way] of dealing with blackness’ totality. I’m painting an environment in which the figures emerge from negative space […] If you see my paintings in person, you’ll look in depth.’iii


    In the recently opened group exhibition The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure at the National Portrait Gallery in London, guest curator Ekow Eshun emphasised the conceptual importance of depth as a way of situating Black identity in a world where to exist as a person of colour is always to be involved in a process of self-creation in opposition to social and cultural forces resistant to or in denial of Black presence. Speaking of Kerry James Marshall’s work in relation to Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man Eshun describes the paradox of being at once invisible and hypervisible at the same time, and of the ways in which Blackness thus functions as a site of possibility - of immense depth and complexity. Rather than disappearing into his compositions, Hodges uses contrast, colour, and opacity to create a remarkable sense of depth and texture here, drawing close visual comparison to Milton Avery’s flattened, yet seemingly weightless compositions. Like Avery, Hodges develops a carefully controlled bleeding of colour throughout his paintings, softening the edges of his forms and lending them an evocative softness that speaks powerfully to the distinct atmosphere of dream and memory.  


    Milton Avery, Swimmers and Sunbathers, 1945, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London 2024

    Collector’s Digest


    • Recently awarded the Jacob Lawrence Award in Art by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Reggie Burrows Hodges has been the subject of intensifying critical attention in recent years following his debut solo exhibition with Karma Gallery in New York in 2021. 

    • The artist’s first institutional solo show was mounted by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts in 2023, and examples of his work are held in prestigious public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

    • Reggie Burrows Hodges made his auction debut at Phillips London in October 2021, when his For the Greater Good achieved £441,000, soaring over 15 times its low estimate.


    i Hilton Als and Suzette McAvoy, Reggie Burrows Hodges, (, Karma, New York, 2021, p. 11.

    ii Hilton Als, ‘In the Service of Others: The Art of Reggie Burrows Hodges’, New York Review of Books, 22 March 2021,online.

    iii Reggie Burrows Hodges, quoted in Hilton Als, ‘Nature Abhors a Vacuum’, Reggie Burrows Hodges, (, Karma, New York, 2021

    • Provenance

      Karma, New York
      Private Collection, The Netherlands
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Reggie Burrows Hodges, exh. cat., Karma, New York, 2021, pp. 84-85 (illustrated, p. 85)


Single Source

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'RBH 2019' on the reverse
acrylic and pastel on canvas
152.4 x 117.5 cm (60 x 46 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £292,100

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2024