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Reggie Burrows Hodges at Karma

Reggie Burrows Hodges, Blackness in the Looking Glass and the Images of Currency — Carriage, 2022

Hilton Als says, “Reggie Burrows Hodges does not paint transcriptions of his past, but, more often than not, the big and subtle and far away but close feelings that memory can engender. Indeed, one could say the works displayed in The Reckoning are fragments of memory that are writ large in the artist’s imagination. And it’s there, in Hodges’s fecund imagination, that these paintings, which explore, in part, the metaphysics of looking—and looking at the self in a mirror—had their first home. In that universe—the universe of the artist’s eye and mind—the paintings breathed and grew, nurtured by memory’s soil, and its various components: love, passion, truth, and regret.”

Karma is presenting The Reckoning, a series of new paintings by Los Angeles–born artist Reggie Burrows Hodges, from May 6 to July 7, 2023. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

The Reckoning takes reflection as its primary motif: a handheld mirror, the glimmer of a sliding door, a pool of water, a figure bowed in contemplation. The series, which first debuted in Get Lifted!, an exhibition at Karma organized by Hilton Als, has been continuously developed over the past three years. Rendered in acrylic and pastel, Hodges’s succinct vocabulary of space, rhythm, and light confounds the boundaries between the corporeal and the spiritual.

In The Reckoning, reflective surfaces are inverted, cropped, distorted, or fleeting. Hodges’s pared-down, impressionistic gestures in Vera Rose (2023) carve out the silhouette of a woman seated before a full-length mirror. Inside the uncanny world of the mirror, her smaller double faces away from her real-life counterpart. In Slumber Aura (2022), soft, pastel-colored brushstrokes depicting a domestic space are juxtaposed with a dense, obscured figure, her hands clasped as if in prayer. The subject’s reflection in her vanity mirror hovers over the composition. Inner Impulse (2023) depicts the silhouette of a woman in contemplation, submerged in inky blackness. One hand cups her chin, while the other grasps a small mirror, articulated by a burst of gray. A second mirror, affixed to the wall, creates a labyrinth of reflections, none of which offer legibility to the viewer. Throughout the exhibition, mirrored surfaces multiply, operating as potent sites of transportation and slippery disappearance.

Hodges likens his compositions to music: his paintings are movements of whole and half steps, frameworks for the repetition and advancement of motif and gesture. As silence is integral to sound in the creation of rhythm and harmony, crucial to Hodges’s visual language is negative space, which in his works takes form in stark blacks rising into the picture plane. Taken as a whole, The Reckoning follows this resonant structure: the series begins with subjects alone with their reflections and progresses into dynamic scenes wherein multivalent reflections populate the composition. In Alfred’s Gift (2023), three figures meet at the threshold of a sliding door. The glass, at once transparent and reflective, obscures distinctions between inside and outside and self and likeness. This moment, charged and imminent, recalls a refracted memory: shifting and changing with time, dispersed through multiple perspectives.

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