We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Face the music: lenience



Reggie Burrows Hodges

United States of America

1965 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    synthetic polymer paint and pastel on canvas
    73.3 x 73.6 cm stretcher; 75.0 x 75.3 x 4.4 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed u.r. verso, black felt tipped pen "RBH". Not dated.

    Purchased with funds provided by Jennifer Heller 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Reggie Burrows Hodges

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Reggie Burrows Hodges

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Reggie Burrows Hodges creates pictures of intimacy, community and memory that are connected by his use of a deep black ground. Leaving the faces of his figures uninflected, so that this blackness becomes a space of potential and projection, Hodges, as writer Hilton Als puts it, transforms depth of field into ‘depth of person’.

    Face the music: lenience is an intimate scene that addresses viewers intimately. Its modest wooden frame and rough black margin create the feeling of a private scene. The record player, brushed in lightly, sends imagined sound into the scene, while the suggestion of music lends a listening intensity to the two figures. Their period clothing, rendered in fluid brushstrokes, makes it clear this is a memory painting.

    The title suggests an unavoidable challenge. Who has ‘faced the music’? And who has asked for or been granted ‘lenience’? The longer one looks, the more the painting seems to combine two connected but separate existences. The woman on the right in her coat and scarf, as if she’s just arrived from outside. And the man on the left, besuited, somewhat dapper, floating behind the record player.

    She could almost be dreaming him. He is near yet in another place. But they’re connected, in Hodges’ tender portrayal, by the shared song they’re hearing. In this dreamlike interior, music becomes a metaphor for the unseen emotions that flow between people.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition