FACE NOTCH, BACK CUTS by Byron Hodgins
Byron’s paintings in Face Notch, Back Cuts, represent a critical shift towards understanding the power in implicit narratives of self-expression and the dynamics in landscape painting. The artist must select and examine what to include in a painting and many distortions and edits are made from reality, this process results in a limited view of the landscape and yet stands to represent it. The processes of being critically aware of problematic representations are ultimately the responsibility of the artist, but the dialogue stimulated should facilitate meaningful change if the art is to be successful. The large central painting The Arborist, functions to represent the artist at work in the landscape, the pose is the critical moment before the face notch, the cut that will direct the tree into its fall line. The arborist is not a logger assigned to clear-cut the forest for industry; instead, they function to diagnose, evaluate and help maintain healthy ecosystems. Byron’s paintings function in a similar way as they carefully align a subject to be reconfigured and represent its before and after. In another series smaller paintings, sketches are taken to examine what is lost and gained by destroying the original panel and its frame, whereby shifting meaning to the object itself. The cut lines through the painting distort the experience we know of the landscape, but the cuts highlight the maintenance of power, we may ask “what is missing here.” Finally, the paint film itself is a contested area for meaning, the need to locate one self in the landscape Riverbank, is near impossible because authentic painter’s mark is cast aside for a sheared action across the paint film; resulting, in the effective loss of power over ones place in the world, it is also a loss of power over ones self.
Byron Hodgins is inspired by both an inward place and direct observation of nature. To him, painting is a means a means of being sensitive to color, as much as a mean for expressing visual though. A plein-air painting practice has lead Byron to experience the common place as transformational, an opportunity to be present and focus on the self.
Collections include Ontario Government Archive; Boy Scouts Canada; Corporate and Private Collections across Canada and internationally.