'Soul music', Clive Hodgson

Painting with a green background and an oval in the centre containing an image of three figrues

Oil on canvas, 183 x 244 cm

The title refers both to the musicians in the painting and to the supposed potential of art to access and represent such notions as The Soul.

It is not clear who the musicians might be, where they are, or when they are from. They don’t have a location, and are rather adrift.

They lack gravity and weight, barely maintaining their integrity. Possibly they are just ghostly, or a reference or quotation.

Around them is a frame, without a content of its own. The two elements, image and frame, have different functions – one descriptive, one decorative. But painting homogenises everything.

The world of the figures is in fact the same as the world beyond them. They are made of the same stuff. It is very shallow. It has no depth. It is not capable of much. Perhaps after all, it is just decorative.

I have always been attracted to the rampant vacuity of decorative painting and its contiguity with the world of ideas and sense. The decorative offers a potential for blankness, a counterpoint of unfathomable effects, to set against meaning, narrative and sense.

Is this then still a kind of Soul Music for the lovers of the vacuous and blank ?


Clive Hodgson was born in Nottingham in 1953. He studied at St. Martin’s School of Art 1971-72 and the Slade School of Fine Art 1972-77. His first exhibition was at Browse and Darby London 1978. Recent solo exhibitions have been at The Slade Gallery London 1997, Danielle Arnauld Contemporary Art London 1997, The British School at Rome 1998 and Margaret Harvey Gallery St. Albans 2002.