Color and Meaning
Reto Thüring Associate Curator of Contemporary Art
In the summer of 2012 Jim Hodges discovered two boulders on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and envisioned using them to create a new monumental sculpture. A short time later, the Cleveland Museum of Art commissioned him to do just that. After two years of chiseling, fitting, and polishing the stones at a fine art foundry in Rock Tavern, New York (during which time he split one of the rocks into two), Untitled (bridge of harmony) was finished. On May 21 the work was installed in the northeast portion of the museum grounds, becoming the third outdoor work in the Kohl Sculpture Garden. The impressive sculpture creates a place for museum visitors and neighbors alike to rest, wonder, and get lost. Each of the three rocks has been alchemically transformed by a layering of stainless steel and dynamic shades of dichroic pigment, appearing as if they were partially dip-dyed in glimmering metal, drastically altering their appearance at every angle. Installed in a triangular setting with the modified sides facing inward, the rocky trio creates a vibrating space of colors and reflections. In the flawlessness of the shining skin and the rough surface of the boulders one can find the richness of emotion and metaphorical depth that is typical of Hodges’s oeuvre and his continued interest in the varied relationship between beauty and transience.
Untitled (bridge of harmony) evokes the age-old maxim of natural versus man-made beauty. Reflecting the stripes of the new Viñoly building, the natural world, and ourselves as we stand near it, the installation equally allows for introspection and meditation as well as an interactive, lively viewing experience. Itcan be seen as a continuation of the traditions begun by ancient civilizations in which monumental stele and menhirs were used to mark territory and signify beliefs. In this sculpture, the surfaces of primordial stones have been interrupted by Hodges with very recent technology—simultaneously honoring the natural form and marking the achievements of 21st-century artists and the role of culture within contemporary society. In the context of the museum’s collection, the work speaks to multiple curatorial departments, as it not only references ancient cultural achievements and current technological progress, but also bears the influence of the artist’s recent trip to India and his experiences there: he describes a “layering, layering, layering of material, to the point where what’s being covered, its identity, seemed to start being erased by the accumulation of color.” In whatever direction one may look or think, one will find a multifaceted, thoughtful work of art that suggests we shouldn’t be afraid of embracing beauty as an integral part of life.
Cleveland Art, July/August 2014