Tom Hodgson , a member of the “Painters Eleven” from Toronto, was well known for his distinct use of colour in his abstract painting. Hodgson spent his youth on Toronto’s Centre Island and developed his talents as both a champion canoeist and talented abstract expressionist painter. Hodgson represented Canada for canoeing, competing at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, and again in 1956 at the Melbourne Olympic Games.
As a young boy of ten years, Tom Hodgson’s interest in art took him on a ferry ride to the city every Saturday morning for art classes at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the AGO). At nineteen years old, in 1943, Hodgson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force to train as a pilot. In 1945, after his discharge from the Canadian Air Force he enrolled at the Ontario College of Art. Tom Hodgson graduated from the Ontario College of Art and the Central Technical art program in 1946.
Like many of the “Painters Eleven” members, Tom Hodgson began working in the advertising industry in 1946. He had a successful commercial career, working as a freelance illustrator, a layout artist and an art director. To further develop his fine art practice, he became a member of the Ontario Society of Artists, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Canadian Group of Painters and the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolours. Hodgson’s works were selected to be exhibited in several of these group’s shows in the early 1950’s because of his unique and rich sense of colour, as well as the emerging interest in non-figurative art. In 1953, Hodgson was one of the seven artists who exhibited in the historically noted “Abstracts at Home” art show at the Simpson’s department store. The exhibition was created by “Painters Eleven” member William Ronald, who eventually left Toronto to spread his wings in New York. In 1953, Hodgson also had a solo exhibition of his work at the Douglas Duncan Picture Loan Society, and Hart House Gallery at the University of Toronto. In 1955, Hodgson’s work was selected for an international exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Tom Hodgson explored a “pop art” style of portraiture from 1965 to roughly 1972; this more figurative work was a detour from his abstract expressionism. In the late 70’s Hodgson stepped back from the art world, losing contact with dealers and curators. It was not until 1983 and 1985 that he was offered solo exhibitions with Bau-Xi Gallery, painting again in the abstract expressionist style. In the 1990’s Christopher Cutt’s Gallery had taken on Hodgson and held several solo exhibitions of Hodgson’s work until 1995. In 1995, friends and family recognized a deterioration in Hodgson’s health. Hodgson passed away in 2006 as a result of complications arising from Alzheimer’s disease. Tom Hodgson has been recognized as one of the early mavericks of abstract expressionist painting in Ontario and an important member of the “Painters Eleven”..
Iris Nowell, Painters Eleven, The Wild Ones of Canadian Art, 2011, pg.’s 1-11.