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Reggie Burrows Hodges at Karma


In The Reckoning, Reggie Burrows Hodges’ first LA solo exhibition, a series of emotive paintings bring a fresh perspective to the genre of Black figuration. The works, done in acrylic and pastel, are painted onto black grounds, and Hodges’ frenetic line work layers to build out each figure’s clothing and surroundings—their bodies consisting only of black negative space. This underpainting peers through elsewhere in each painting to define contours and create dappled surfaces. And, while figures can be found in each work, at times, areas of the paintings smoothly fade into abstraction, rejoicing in surprising color juxtapositions and shapes.

With the expectation of two large scale works, many of Hodge’s figures are solitary, hemmed in by interior spaces and often peering into a reflective surface—mirrors, phones, and computers become portals that reflect each figure’s likeness back to them as if in an echo chamber. Squiggling linework surrounds each figure, making them feel cramped and isolated. 

The two larger works, by contrast, feel slightly less detailed, and present small groups of people huddled together in communal activity. In one, a figure appears to be styling another’s hair, while more watch on, and in the other, three figures dance around the canvas jubilantly. Notably, these two paintings are devoid of reflections or devices—implying that despite the feeling of isolation that many of us experience, strength can be found in community.   

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Photo: Reggie Burrows Hodges, The Reckoning (installation view) (2023). Image courtesy of the artist and Karma.