In Flux: A Survey of Paintings by Margaret Schnebly Hodge
Indeed, her monumental figures fill up almost all of the design space, pressing up against its boundaries to create strong tensions and compression. These figures seem to yearn for liberation.Freedom, by implication, awaits outside. Clearly these figurative, formal arrangements stand as metaphors; each represents an interior state for the artist, as well as external, cultural conditions that she has observed.
As the artist explored and challenged herself during the course of developing this body of work, she discovered exciting new avenues for artistic and personal growth. In paintings such as Awakening, Symphony, and Inherent Tension, figurative forms, while still monumental, seem to relax in relationship to the spaces they inhabit. The implied confrontation with their spatial parameters – top, bottom, left, and right – eases up. In its place are new formal dialogues between elements on the surface and others underneath, between elements becoming and others fading away. The artist finds increased gratification in mark-making and processing, with less descriptive emphasis. Figurative forms are now harmoniously unified with non-figurative elements and movements. The figures no longer seem confined or seek liberation. According to Hodge, “Liberation now comes in the realization that freedom has been there (inside) all along."
The current series culminates in paintings such as Airborne and Inner City. In a manner and feeling reminiscent of Italian Futurist paintings executed nearly a century ago, all is in flux and motion, furiously evolving. The artist’s working process is now in flux as well. Hodge is now acting and responding rather than simply executing a plan. Forms are no longer isolated and compartmentalized, but fully integrated with their environment. “Every event and every force you come in contact with has an effect on you, and becomes an internalized part of you… my work reflects experiences and emotions, both past and present, both personal and universal,” states the artist.
Margaret Hodge’s most recent paintings signal the arrival of a new, mature direction. Formally, they show a high degree of sophistication and richness of surface. Narratively, they reflect the artist’s personal struggle to find inner and spiritual peace in a world filled with anxiety and change. She believes that one’s life force is intimately connected with a broader, shared spiritual awareness. Thus, by revealing passages from her own journey, she connects with us all.
~ Steve Aimone — Artist, Educator and Author ~