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Shannen Hill

(b Dulwich, June 27, 1920).

South African painter and printmaker of English birth. He earned an Arts and Crafts Certificate at Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1951 and a National Diploma in Design in 1953, the same year in which he emigrated to South Africa. Considered one of the country’s greatest painters, his works are in many national collections and have been exhibited internationally. His best known work explores the the human condition sardonically, depicting people as self-concerned, lacking conscience and infinitely unaware of their own fallibility. Richly painted, his pieces consistently convey a paradox between beauty and grotesqueness. Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi inspired Hodgins’s treatment of historical tyrants and businessmen as composite brutal and absurd characters. The distorted figure in Ubu: The Official Portrait (1981; Johannesburg, A.G.) satirizes officials, their ceremonies and their pretense to rule justly. Hodgins’s bright, energetic palette conveys a certain clownishness, while his compositions and disfigured forms tell of an underlying evil. In an etched series called ...