200 Words or Less
By Isabel Oliveres
Renowned installation artist Jim Hodges’s latest exhibit at the Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea is at first difficult to decipher. Upon entering, an enormous wooden cube (120 x 180 x 180 in) dominates the room. The stonewall silence is suddenly broken by the sound of gasps and giggles coming from the opposite side of the structure. As you make your way around the sculpture, the inside comes into view: bright-white canvas lines the interior surface, as a mechanized system within the top plank squirts vibrantly colored tempera paints onto the space below. The result is Untitled, a changing, saturated explosion of color that returns you to the finger-painting days of preschool, evoking feelings of whimsical surprise and delight. Across the gallery is a dark room with a black marble floor whose perfectly smooth surface is broken by a reflecting pool in the center, illuminated solely by the disco ball that hangs directly above it. Also Untitled, this installation is almost eerie in its darkness, especially after experiencing the delight of its predecessor. While the first Untitled is a joyful, nearly childlike performance, the second compels the viewer to explore the space to discover his or her own image reflected on the floor, in the water, and broken into a thousand tiny mirrors on the disco ball. In these two works, Hodges creates a dichotomy between a vibrant, exuberant exterior and a need for calm and self-reflection, leading the viewer to consider identity as a duality.