Aidan Dunne

IRISH TIMES 11 September 2018

CAROL HODDER 'Inflow' Review by Aidan Dunne


Metaphoric potential

Carol Hodder’s textural paintings are heavily worked – not over-worked, but built up in many tides and drifts of pigment worked in layers across the canvas. We feel the physicality of this process. You could describe them as seascapes, but they are not “scapes” in a representational sense, not really depictions. The paint becomes the atmosphere, made up of time, weather, light and shadow. Sure, one gets the impression of the water surging, impelled by the force of wind and tides, and the rainclouds sweep over the sky like curtains. But all of this happens in an abstracted way, arranged in dynamically intertwined compositional blocks. Being tied to, but not quite illustrating, the sea gives Hodder some leeway and considerably ups the paintings’ metaphoric potential, frees them to be about lots of things, to be read in several ways.

Visually, the work continues in the romantic tradition, with Turner as the most relevant precursor, though it is actually hard to imagine Hodder’s paintings without the more recent example of Hughie O’Donoghue. One could also mention other fine painters of weather, including the late Sean McSweeney, Donald Teskey, Stuart Shils and Melita Denaro, with all of whom she shares a correspondence on some level. But it is as though Hodder has literally learned well, in the best sense of the term, from O’Donoghue’s working process, his way of shaping a painting from the physical management of pigment, like working over a piece of ground, so that the motif emerges organically out of this ground of paint. Whether influenced by his example, or independently, she has learned how to make this work very effectively. As a process it fits perfectly with what she is trying – and indeed managing – to do.

The show includes two relatively large works, Storm Tide I and II . The latter is the better of the two, though it is also the more difficult from the painter’s point of view as it is keyed to a lighter palette. You can confidently ratchet up the drama with a bit of contrast, but it’s tricky to invest a painting with gravitas when it hinges on a subtle tonal arrangement of pale, smoky hues. That’s very effectively managed in Storm Tide II , and in many other pieces on a much smaller scale. The low silhouette of a ship, usually vague in the murky visibility, recurs in several works, and one particularly striking picture, Docklands , stands out in that the infrastructure of the docks is discernible – very subtly – and adds a great deal to the pictorial structure. Turner’s last words are famously reputed to be “The sun is God”, and Hodder’s exceptional attentiveness to the way light defines and infuses everything is crucial to her achievement.


To vierw the exhibition click here:


September 11, 2018