Venice

Jim Hodges

Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa

What city could be more suitable than Venice for an exhibition that expresses a phenomenology of love? This is the city of water and the sky reflected within it—all elements beloved by American artist Jim Hodges, who espouses a connection to the color blue. And, indeed, the metal spiderweb featured in posters that were put up along the streets of Venice to advertise “Love, eccetera”—Hodges’s first solo show in Italy (curated by Jonas Storsve)—stands out against a blue background. The same web sculpture, Hello, Again, 1994–2003, could be seen firsthand at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa’s gallery in Piazza San Marco. As Angela Vettese, president of the foundation writes in the catalogue, “for Jim Hodges, just like for Felix Gonzales-Torres, Roni Horn and the other contemporary heralds of the emotion most dear to us, translating this sentiment into a work of visual art is not an easy task.”

The spiderweb was only one artwork among some forty others on view in these ancient galleries. But for all practical purposes, it became the key to the exhibition; it represents the web woven by time and becomes the armature for the narration of the emotional events of life, beginning with birth and extending to relationships and connections of all types. Like the glass broken into fragments yet held together by their matrix in Hodges’s Untitled, 1997, or the gold leaf folded and creased in Simple Constellation, 2007, the lagoon city evokes an identity that is simultaneously Baroque and Minimalist. This opposition is one that structures many of Hodges’s works. The silk and plastic flowers drawn upward to the sky in A Line to You, 1994, were positioned in an intimate space, as the work demanded: a place for contemplation and emotion, for respecting the fragility of the blossom. The natural light that entered from the gallery windows illuminated the flowers, making them shine, until the light gradually faded with the coming of dusk. The mural Oh Great Terrain, 2002, is not a new work, but it was re-created here in a way that made it seem site-specific. The camouflage pattern that invades the walls offers a schematized nature in its variations of light and color, which suggests the social camouflage one has to assume to coexist with others. And so in contrast with the importance of the windows in the installation of A Line to You, in this large first-floor room, the windows were not part of the installation design, but they remained open, allowing a view of the landscape.

Marco Tagliafierro

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.