13 May — 29 July 2023
In Slip Road, Nicky Hodge continues to explore her individual practice of 30 years. Composed at the start of 2023, these paintings result from an intense period of productivity: the canvases were completed energetically, one after another, each one flowing into the next in a state of meditative flow. “Time is important to the work,” says Hodge. “The sequence in which the paintings are made creates a narrative, as the works form relationships between each other and the group as a whole.”
A range of techniques was utilised to create the atmospheric compositions, including spontaneous, sweeping gestures and gentle movements with softer brushes to blur the marks, using acrylic mixed with water and applied wet on untreated canvas. Unlike Hodge’s previous work, there is a build-up of layers on some of the monochrome canvases, and across the paintings, a contrast of muted tones with brighter, more vivid hues can be discerned. “The different methods in the works enhance the sense of these paintings as being in a state of flux,” says Hodge. “My quick way of working is experimental and risky and raises questions about letting go. By allowing chance to dictate some of the composition, I feel a sense of drama when I work, and the ending is always a surprise to me.”
Hodge composes without specific imagery in mind and works quickly and spontaneously with the utmost focus, allowing each painting to be partly informed by experience and chance. Hodge rarely paints over the top of a canvas, meaning each one is the evidence of a single day’s performance. “It’s very much a one-shot process for me,” she says. “I’ve become experienced in knowing when a work is complete, although it’s very difficult to explain exactly how it happens. The process comes to a sense of resolution – one that I recognise instinctively.”
The titles of the paintings are chosen in a similarly abstract method as their composition: Hodge combs through copies of the London Review of Books, listing individual words she resonates with, and allocates them to each work based on a perceived affinity. “There is no definitive meaning attached to each painting, so the titles are purposefully fragmentary and abstruse, reinforcing the sense of these works as free-floating and existing in the abstract realm,” she says.
Slip Road features the largest canvases Hodge has ever worked on. “It has taken me a long time to realise that I prefer working on larger paintings – the expanse suits my gestural, instinctive way of working,” she says. “By expanding the sizes of my largest canvases for this show, it in turn, allowed me to expand my expression. When viewed en masse, they play off one another – there’s a rich luminosity to them.”