Felice Hodges – Inner Sanctum

There is in Felice Hodges’ recent painting a notable change of palette, in which gently modulated greys and whites, yellows and blues predominate. The intense hues that feature strongly in the artist’s earlier work are still here, though often solely as compositional markers and anchor points made from fragments of painted paper collage. Concurrent with the emphasis on tonal colour is a fuller exploration of pictorial space. This is particularly true of the larger paintings, in which shapes float and hover amongst veils and flurries of paint applied in varying degrees of transparency, with gaps in the proceedings allowing room to breathe.

Hodges works rapidly, constantly sensitive to surface and touch, her process a fine balance between premeditation and spontaneity. There is a lot of drawing involved, both with the brush, and in grainy lines of charcoal and oil pastel, of a lexicon of loosely outlined circles and squares, arcs, columns, cropped ovals, arrowheads and triangles. Control and serendipity run hand-in-hand. For instance, those trailing runnels, and clouds of tiny droplets like so much scattered seed, might be deliberate or accidental. Decisions, as to whether such incidentals remain, or are subject to editing, occur during the calm appraisal that follows each intense spell of painting.

The artist has talked of her paintings as rooms, each ‘with the idea of a window’, suggesting an interplay between interior and exterior. Related to this notion is her long deployment of certain motifs: chairs, tables, vases and jugs, the stuff of domestic spaces. Though still sometimes identifiable as such, with reiteration over time these objects have become gradually more allusive, less fettered by unambiguous representation. And, in the same way that the difference between inside and outside in these lyrical, atmospheric abstractions has become imperceptible, such distinctions are perhaps no longer relevant. For the weather has entered the room, and the painted space become more than ever a metaphor for the artist’s inner life.


Text © Ian Massey 2019

Image © Felice Hodges

Felice Hodges: Inner Sanctum – Cricket Fine Art, London, 2-19 October 2019



Posted in: Essays