I have worked for 30 years in my Moody Street studio, with its tall windows and good north light. I start my paintings with line to shape the forms I need, then use oil wash and thicker pigment to construct an abstract and fluid space in the spirit of abstract expressionism. Having grown up in New York City, I am drawn to the constant movement, energy and rhythms of city spaces. My work combines images of the directly observed world with those from my memory and imagination.
I work in a broad range of mediums, including oil, collage, watercolor, charcoal and monotype. There is a deep personal narrative in my work, as in portraits of people who have had a strong influence on me: my mother Helen Hodes, and the writers Primo Levi and I. B. Singer. I have responded to several of the major events of my time: for example, the Kennedy and King assassinations in my “American Ritual” series, the threat of nuclear war in the drawing “Hiroshima Mother” and the “Three Minutes to Midnight” lithographs, and the Sept. 11 attack in “Shattered City With Arches” among other works. The peace
group “Artists For Survival,” which I co-founded in 1982, organized over 100 exhibitions and worked for a nuclear weapons freeze, and now has its archives in the Museum of Modern Art Library in New York.
Family history is important to me, as have been the teaching and encouragement of Agnes Mongan at the Fogg and Oskar Kokoschka in his school in Salzburg. Creating a painting over time, often over an earlier canvas, mirrors changes in my life as well as the ever changing face of the city: the demolitions and reconstructions, the old and the new, the past and present, the living and the dead. Often I use multiple images to suggest the passage of time, and optical reflections in which changes of form and color suggest the shifting aspects of our perceptions. Specific art works have inspired me: in my “A Vision, after G. Bellini” I transformed the Tuscan landscape into Central Park and replaced St. Francis with a self-portrait. Another example is my recent “Times Square Boogie-Woogie” series, with echoes of Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie-Woogie.”
Copley Square Reflections #2
oil on canvas
30" x 46"