TOM HODGSON (1924-2006)
Born in Toronto Ontario, Thomas Sherlock Hodgson grew up on Toronto's Centre Island and attended art classes that were organized by Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer at what was then known as the Art Gallery of Toronto, now the Art Gallery of Ontario. He was a successful painter and commercial artist in his lifetime, as well as a teacher and enthusiastic member of the Toronto group “Painters Eleven”. He worked in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache, silkscreen, charcoal and mixed media. His subject matters were non-objective abstracts, landscapes, nudes, figures and portraits. His styles were abstract expressionism, lyrical abstraction, realism and pop art. Today it is his abstract expressionism that continues to attract.
Hodgson taught at the Ontario College of Art from 1968 to 1972 and began painting full time in 1976. He has traveled with his paintbrush throughout Europe and to Australia.
During WWII he served 2 years overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force. As a member of the Canadian Olympic canoe team, Hodgson competed at Helsinki in 1952, and Melbourne in 1956. He remained a competitive canoe racer for much of his life.
Hodgson was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1954), the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour (1954) and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy (1962). His work has been exhibited in over 50 major solo and group exhibitions from the early 1950’s to 1995. These include four Canadian Biennials at the National Gallery of Canada (1955, 57, 59 and 61); the Smithsonian U.S.A. Tour (1956 – 1957); a two-man show with Graham Coughtry at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1960; the Canadian Biennial in London, England (1963) and the Painters Eleven Retrospective traveling exhibition (1978 – 1981). He also exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy from 1952 to 1966, and with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from 1954 to 1963. In addition his work has been exhibited in many other locations such as Mexico City; New Delhi India; New York NY; Louisville KY and at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh PA.
Hodgson's work is in many private, corporate and public collections world-wide. Some of the public collections are the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa), the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Concordia University (Montreal), the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Lachine (Quebec).
This prominent Canadian artist was in the forefront of a movement to challenge and change Canada's attitudes toward the wave of bold contemporary art that was already making a statement in New York and European galleries. It was fellow artist Harold Town who in 1954 suggested the name Painters Eleven for the new collective of like-minded artists. For the next 6 years, this group of avant-garde abstract painters met, exhibited together regularly around Toronto and throughout Ontario and helped usher in Toronto's acceptance of modernism.
Unlike their predecessors in the Group of Seven, the members of the Painters Eleven did not subscribe to a particular aesthetic in their art. Spanning in age from their mid-20s to nearly 70 years old, the members had no formal leader or structure and, for the most part, remained loosely affiliated in a congenial atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement.
Tom Hodgson was the last surviving member of the Painters Eleven, passing away in a Peterborough nursing home on Feb. 27, 2006 at age 81. Sadly, the last several years of his life were lost to Alzheimer's disease.