frank hodginkinson

Frank Hodgkinson was a noted Australian abstract printmaker, painter and graphic artist.

Hodgkinson’s work became more abstract and expressionist. While his paintings in the 1950s had remained figurative, “with a leaning towards the neo-romantic”, at the end of the decade he developed a “more plastic, painterly abstraction”, according to art historian Bernard Smith (1916–2011). Deep, thick layers of pastes displaying burnt siennas and raw ochres among the blacks and whites provided a dynamic texture. New materials found their way into his paintings. Hodgkinson enjoyed experimenting with molten wax, employed an encaustic technique, but also used oils and polyvinyl acetate, while mixing in materials such as hessian and other matter.

“I like to build a surface, dig into it, penetrate behind the veil of reality, open it up to reveal new sensations of space, then enter and explore it. With every advance from the known to the unknown the mystery increases. It’s a wrestle to extract the mystery, to find the essence of its ecstatic silence,” he wrote to Bernard Smith.

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Frank Hodgkinson


Born in Ashfield Sydney New South Wales1919

Died in Sydney New South Wales 2001

Hodgkinson was educated at Fort Street High School and after leaving began work as a commercial artist and newspaper illustrator. He studied at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales.

At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Army and served in the Middle East, North Africa, New Guinea and Borneo as an official war artist. Following the war he studied and worked in Europe, especially Spain.

Hodgkinson moved back to Australia in 1970 and in 1971 took up residence in the bush north of Melbourne at Dunmoochin on the invitation of Clifton Pugh. Pugh introduced Hodgkinson to oil viscosity printing.

Hodgkinson married Kate Ratten in 1972 then moved to Kenthurst, outside Sydney.

Lou Klepac art historian, author and publisher praised Frank Hodgkinson “not only one of the finest Australian abstract painters, but equally a marvellous draughtsman, an exceptional etcher and a most interesting and talented writer”. Dr Colin Jack-Hinton, Emeritus and Foundation Director of Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, as it was known then, called him in the introduction to the Hodgkinson monograph published by Beagle Press in 1994 a “prodigious artist of great distinction”.

Novelist Morris West wrote: “He is a man so various that he hardly gives you time to focus on any single one talent. He is a painter, a sculptor, an architect, a designer of habitats and ambiences. His creative energy is enormous. His curiosity is at once that of a child and a mature philosopher trying to make sense of the cosmos over which he has ranged with hunger and delight.” He was very much an ‘Australian artist’, despite spending many formative years abroad. Driven by an interest to explore where and how art is developing, throughout his entire career he sought to paint, in his own words, “purposefully, not to the whims of fashion.” Hodgkinson strove to establish from his own “point of view a relationship with this country and the world at large,” displaying a remarkable sense of place and a uniquely Australian character.


Hodgkinson won the first Helena Rubinstein Travelling Scholarship in 1958 and became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for services to the visual arts.