New York

K. H. Hödicke

Annina Nosei Gallery

Compared to the work of such neoExpressionists as Rainer Fetting and Salomé (his ex-students, though he isn’t much older than they), K.H. Hödicke’s paintings are neither proudly anti-intellectual nor aggressively expressionistic. He has a way of choosing subjects that seem to address more substantial matter than German art-historical tradition or painting for painting’s sake, but his social commentary exists for the most part on the surface. Hödicke does take on such social ills as prostitution, pornography, and what looks like white imperialism, to name a few, but Hödicke the stylist doesn’t really seem that interested in the whores in his Potsdamer Strasse, or in the sprawled-out naked lady in Peep Show. It’s not that he has objectified his subjects—would that they were so challenging. But how the paint was applied to the surface seems to have been far more important to Hödicke than why it was applied in the first place. These are two of the most frenzied paintings in the show.

Hödicke’s more interesting works are elegant, subtle, and witty renditions of French Impressionism and German Expressionism. Unlike Fetting, Hödicke seems genuinely interested not in the seductiveness of Fauvist painting, but in the seductiveness and humor in French Impressionist imagery. The nude bathers glimpsed through the trees in Halensee Bathers are fleshy and brilliant pink splotches languishing on the grass like cattle, while the girl in the Kirchneresque Elvira in Lounge Chair postures in the sunlight, dressed all in white, looking as if the sun shines only for her.

These last two paintings ring far truer than most of the other work in the show, and their fluid styles complement the artful grace of their contents. Hödicke enjoys such clichéd disingenuousness, and with it, he is at his most genuine.

Joan Casademont