THOMAS SHERLOCK HODGSON (1924-2006)
Dark Then Mostly Light
Oil on canvas, laid on masonite, 1956
80 x 161.3 cm, 31.5 x 63.5 in
Private collection, Toronto.
Canadian Group of Painters, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Nov. 7th – Dec.8th. 1957.
Four decades: the Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries,
1930-1970, Paul Duval, Toronto, Clarke Irwin, 1972, p. 140-141.
HODGSON, Tom Sherlock
Born in Toronto, 1924, he studied in Toronto at the Central Technical School, 1939-42. During the Second World War he served with the R.C.A.F. overseas and on his return to civilian life resumed his studies in art at the Ontario College of Art where he graduated in 1946. He joined the staff of an advertising agency as assistant to the art director until he entered the field of commercial art. He subsequently worked with an engraving house in 1949; as a commercial artist for the Odeon Theatres, 1951; as a commercial artist with Art & Design Studios, 1952, and entered the free lance field of commercial art in 1955. The following year he became a teacher for the Artists Workshop, Toronto. But while he was developing in his artistic career he was excelling in athletics and was on the Canadian Olympic paddling team (1952 and 1956) where he won several first prizes. Back in Toronto he joined with a group of artists which included Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Alexandra Luke, J.W.G. MacDonald, Ray Mead, Kazuo Nakamura, William Ronald, Harold Town, Walter Yarwood and Hortense Gordon who were interested in non-objective painting. This group decided to call themselves Painters Eleven and they brought non-objective painting to Ontario in a big way. Hodgson was particularly influenced by one of them, Oscar Cahén, who, like Hodgson was a commercial artist in search of freedom and adventure in painting. Perhaps more than anything it was Cahén’s colour juxtapositions which greatly influenced Hodgson. Solo exhibitions by Hodgson were held in 1954; 1956; 1957 (at the Gallery of Contemporary Art), also during 1957 he received First Prize in the Monsanto Canadian Art Competition. In 1958 Hugo McPherson in his article on Toronto’s vigor and new life in painting, noted Hodgson among the good painters of that city. In 1961 Hodgson with 23 other artists, was featured in an issue of Canadian Art magazine and noted by Robert Fulford6 as follows, “A Hodgson canvas seems to storm over us, filling our eyes with its swarm of apparently unrelated images. It is not until long after our first glimpse of the work that its organization and structure become apparent. At first it appears to be a jumble of squiggles and smears, arrows and parabolas. But when we examine it closer and allow the painting to assert itself we begin to see the way in which one image leads into another, and also the way in which each of the several levels is securely anchored in space. And while examining it, and others by Hodgson, we begin to see that the strange colours – purple, purplish red, dull green – are not only the result of a rather eccentric colour sense but also are the result of Hodgson’s desire to break away from all traditional usage and create new worlds of space and light.” Fulford also went on to note that some of these paintings had greater strength when isolated by themselves. He also noted that Hodgson’s strongest and most successful area of endeavour rested with his water colours. His 1964 exhibit at the Dorothy Cameron Gallery was noted by Elizabeth Kilbourn who found new strength in his oils. Hodgson won a Canada Council Senior Fellowship Grant in 1963-4. His recent exhibitions have revealed his interest in pop art and the female figure (exhibited at Albert White Galleries, Tor. 1965) and he continues to achieve greater success in his oils which were shown at Needham, Harper and Streets of Canada Ltd., in 1967 but in Montreal Robert Ayre6 favoured his water colours. Collectors of his paintings include, The National Gallery of Canada; The Art Gallery of Ontario; University of British Columbia, and other public collectors and many private collectors. He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1954), Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (1954), Canadian Group of Painters (1956), and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy (1962). He has also won awards at exhibits with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and the Winnipeg Shows. Tom passed away in Toronto in 2006.
Colin S. MacDonald
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada