Soft Opening is pleased to present Dustin Hodges’ first solo show in London, Establishing Shot. The exhibition presents two works from an ongoing series, titled Lepidoptera, in development since 2016. In this series, lions and butterflies repeat in various configurations across numerous works. The genesis for these motifs and indeed the entire series is Papillons, a painting from c. 1910 by French Symbolist artist Odilon Redon (1840–1916) wherein a kaleidoscope of butterflies hover around a pile of rocks that in its formation oddly appears to resemble the outline of a lion.
In Establishing Shot, a single lion painting is accompanied by an architectural study of a historic house. Built in 1883 in New Castle, New Hampshire in the United States by architect Edmund M. Wheelwright and known as “Kelp Rock”, the private residence no longer exists in its original construction. For Hodges, including this building engages with cliches associated with constructing a setting in filmmaking, where an “establishing shot” sets up the context for the scene ahead by establishing the scene’s geography. By juxtaposing this building with his leonine protagonist, the artist involves the lions in human dramatics. Hodges’ Lepidoptera series observes the premise that each work represents a single frame from an animated film. Undermining filmic cliche, Hodges approaches his series resisting sequential narrative order: lions stretch, sleep and rest in various poses as butterflies appear and disappear from canvas to canvas and occasionally an architectural construction disrupts the succession. Evading narrative order affords Hodges the freedom to work without feeling restricted by the expectation of a culmination point or end to the story.