Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bonnie Hodges' Portraiture: Review by Parisian Art Collector

"The Cheerleader"
Reminiscent of
Thomas Lawrence

Before I tell of my impressions about Bonnie Hodges' artistry, I must first qualify my statements by explaining how I first met one whom I modestly qualify as the finest living portrait painter of the day. For many years I have collected portraits by renowned artists from the 17th to the 20th century and have offered on loan portraits to major museums. The sitters represented in these portraits, whether famous poets or composers, Kings or Queens brushed by court painters or more intimate renderings by artists of their close friends, portraits have become my companions with whom I hold imaginary conversations and let my life unfold before their understanding eyes. In the following lines, I evoke the portraiture of Bonnie Hodges, not as an art collector, but as an amateur who loves the essence of art and finds it beautifully expressed by her significant talent.

"Woman with Turban"
Shows mastery of muted and
contrasting colors 
Life has mysterious ways which defy coincidence, and it is by chance that I had the honor of meeting Bonnie Hodges and discovering her work. This brought me the great privilege of visiting her archives with countless works which had never yet been exposed to public viewing. Her "fond d'atelier" is one which merits the detour for any genuine amateur of sensitive portraiture, with many of her works not yet given the honorary place they deserve. From her sketches and preparatory drawings one can measure the mastery that a life of portraiture has brought to her craft, and beyond the academic excellence of her technique she has the unmistakeable genius of giving life to her subject.

"Native American"
Bonnie Hodges is of the rare breed of portrait artists to have the gift of transposing to a painting much of the nature of the soul of the individual she portrays. While in these materialist times her portraits might be called psychological renditions, they would be referred to by art historians as belonging to the tradition of "humanist portraits," a rare achievement which precious few painters ever reached. For there is a great deal of humanity which is revealed of the figures in her representations, their very being or its quintessential presence given more permanent residence, transfixed onto canvas by a mysterious alchemy of pigments.

"Reclining Woman"
When her portraits include other elements in the sitter's vicinity, one cannot help but observe her sense of composition and a natural intuitive ability to create dramatic tension combining line with color. Beyond her quick pencilling in incisive and rapid strokes of motion-bound shapes and intention-filled expressions, she has a rare gift for color which reminds of Delacroix's teachings, and is able to bring light into her portraits in her own way, different from the quick gleam of Franz Hals portraits or the sheer vibrancy of those by John Singer Sargent. Highlighted by small areas of light, there is something of the soft presence of Regency period portraits by Thomas Lawrence. And her confident lines remind us of those of Degas where I find her greatest connection to an earlier artist, both marrying classical academic influences with a crisp personal style and both on their own distinct path regardless of contemporary currents. Beyond references to other artists who inhabit museums and our collective consciousness, Bonnie Hodges is her own artist and is destined to become a reference unto herself.

"The Gypsy"
Reminiscent of 
Courbet's realist movement 
As any art aficionado with an attachment to talent, I find myself wishing that one day I might commission a portrait to proudly display at the Valorism Institute founded in Paris earlier this year. For, beyond the vanity of having one's portrait painted by a gifted artist and the obvious legacy and patrimonial investment it constitutes, it has always been a sure way to link one's own destiny to that of one bound to compel admiration for time to come. I have met people who, from time to time, say "Renoir painted my grandmother" or "my father was friends with Picasso who painted his portrait." In the case of our own offspring, we can proudly grant them the privilege of declaring "my parent was portrayed by Bonnie Hodges."
"Day Dreaming"

Richard Oren
Art Collector
Paris, France
November 27, 2011

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Artwork © Bonnie M Hodges 2023