After a long hiatus caused by a lack of funding the University of New Mexico Hospital, Jonathan Abrams MD Art Gallery is back up and running strong with a quietly stunning exhibition titled “Two Brothers, Two Approaches,” new paintings by Richard Hogan and Kevin Hogan.
Abstract painter Richard Hogan was born in Ohio and educated at the University of New Mexico. His signature minimal but not minimalist paintings made him a 2½-decade standard-bearer at the Linda Durham Gallery in Santa Fe and gained him a following of important collectors.
For me, Hogan’s marks have always been postmodernist runes along his aesthetic path. His work is figurative in that his often-altered lines result from hand- and arm-driven gestures.
In rare agreement with the late New York critic Clement Greenberg, who saw the artist’s figure emerge from the gestural activity of drip and splash painting fanatic Jackson Pollock, I see the same evidence of Hogan’s figure emerging from his far more painstakingly controlled mark making.
Hogan’s work is calmly elegant in pieces like “Bisti #3” 2018, a beautifully restrained pastel that references New Mexico’s Bisti Wilderness area. These lines could be memories of plant forms along the trail or outlines of the trails themselves.
These spare marks are to the art of drawing as haiku is to the art of poetry. In fewer than 25 lines, Hogan has activated the picture plane and struck a harmonious balance within the composition. Hogan possesses an intuitive command of pictorial space that elevates and separates his orchestrations from the madding crowd of third- and fourth-generation wannabe abstract expressionists.
Hogan offers two oil-on-clayboard paintings that share similar forms and colors. In “Chloride #1” 2018 Hogan creates a bas relief in oil that floats on a smooth surface that seems to have been perfectly carved away, leaving Hogan’s discovered lines behind. Like Michelangelo, who said he removed all of the stone that covered the figure within it, Hogan has metaphorically done the same.
Hogan’s younger brother, Kevin, was a project management professional who traveled the world. Now focused on his passion for photography and painting, he conveys his experiences in compositions based upon color harmonies as found in works by Mark Rothko and Joseph Albers, with hints from the I Ching.
Kevin’s work is even more contemplative than Richard’s but shares the penchant for elegant restraint and a love of beauty. Kevin shares Hogan’s inspiration from the landscape in such works as “Monsoon,” 2018, and “Caja Del Rio,” 2018. Both are oil and wax on panel renderings with subtle texturing within geometric planes of color.
Kevin’s “Monsoon” is most akin to Rothko’s compositional structure and Albers’ sense of color choices. However, Kevin’s layered strokes of color energize his panels far beyond the storied reticence of his 1950s predecessors.
The I Ching seems to lurk among the crisp horizontal bars found in Kevin’s “Caja Del Rio,” which shows a modicum of restraint in brushwork and seems to ask for more time from the viewer for comprehension.
Both artists have created a beautiful comeback exhibition for the newly reinstated gallery that was founded in 1991 to offer contemporary art as a respite for doctors and patients to aid in healing.
The gallery has reopened, thanks to UNM Health Sciences Center Art Collection Director Chris Fenton, who found support from Albuquerque philanthropist and art collector Faye Abrams in cooperation with the dean of the UNM College of Fine Arts, Kymberly Pinder, who helped establish the gallery as a satellite of the UNM Art Museum.