NICKY HODGE lives in London. She graduated from Central St Martin’s in 1992. Confinement, a series of 80 compressed charcoal drawings housed in perspex boxes, was selected for Reclaiming the Madonna, a show that toured to five UK cities in 1994-95. Her paintings were included in the group shows Outdoors (2006), Sense and Nonsense (2003), Bittersweet (2001) at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, where she also had a solo exhibition in 2001. In 2007 she co-curated Close at Hand at Contemporary Art Projects in Hoxton. In 2012 she had an exhibition in Abergavenny, Wales; co-curated Grave Passions, an event in Nunhead Cemetery, and was selected for Deptford X. Her video Lifting Belly is all there was shown in Alpha Futura Nova in Berlin and Chelsea College of Art in 2013. In 2015 she completed a post graduate diploma at Goldsmiths College and in 2017 her work was selected by Alison Wilding for the Creekside Open and Small World at PS Mirabel in Manchester. Recent work has focused on small paintings in acrylic, most often in series.

Review of Nicky Hodge's recent work
by Libby Anson, November 2017
Seeing Nicky Hodge's paintings together is like witnessing a conversation you can hear, but not quite understand. The punctuation is sometimes loud and inappropriate, the spaces in between the words, sometimes overly long – other times, clipped and surprising. The gist and the meaning become clearer the longer one listens. But only because the language is translated by your emotional rather than intellectual self.

The paintings hold together like pegs on a washing line, disordered and yet with a consistency that enables them to belong together. This disjointed, yet somehow cohesive family – at once at odds and dysfunctional, while being unmistakably related – seem as happy as individuals, as they do, hanging on to and out with one another.

'What are these about?' is an irrelevant question. Or, at least, it is one that seems unimportant. These works are less 'about' than they just 'are'. They come into being out of an empty thought, forming themselves from gesture and instinct which coalesces into form and content. They appear abstract – random, even. Yet they are highly contained, like cries in a box. Their energy is controlled by their small scale, yet the works themselves could comfortably scale up considerably to swallow one up.

When I say 'comfortable', there is nothing content about these paintings. Their palette is disquieting, sort of this and sort of that – unharmonious; alluring and yet difficult to fathom. However, this discomfort is what makes them compelling. We have a tendency to want to make sense of images and these pictures tantalise with the promise of something we recognise: a direction, a shape, a cry, a disease, a tree, a pattern – yet however hard we look, such certainty in translation remains elusive. As individual paintings each encompasses a whole world of mystery, hidden within a code of marks and layers, of past lives and uncertain colour combinations. When these individuals are grouped together, they sing as a choir, a little out of tune, a little on edge. We cannot make peace with these, yet still we are compelled to try.

Libby Anson is a writer and a professional and creative development coach. In the realm of art writing and editing, she focuses mainly on contemporary practice with special interests in painting and in performance.