Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kim Cogan in SF Chronicle!

Cogan on the beach: When I learned that San Francisco painter Kim Cogan had undertaken seascapes, I thought he might finally have overreached.
A prodigious painter of architecture and light, Cogan has revivified both the San Francisco cityscape and the realism that he practices to describe it. But as his recent pictures at Hespe attest, the ocean presents very different challenges.
For one thing, the ocean never stands still - the opposite of architecture in that respect.
Cogan found that fixing a credible image as a starting point required synthesizing information from unnumbered photographs, yet no one will mistake the finished paintings for photo-realism.
Cogan's technique, regardless of the subject, yields something less explicit than a photograph or even a focused gaze. In that sense the misty atmosphere of a light-starved picture such as "Wave No. 19" (2012) suits him perfectly.
The elliptical shape of Cogan's wave pictures will disturb some eyes at first, though a considerable tradition lies behind it. He chose the ellipse because its two foci create a visual sway that suits the subject.
Yet, impressive as they are technically - they can even stand comparison with Winslow Homer's seascapes - Cogan's wave paintings have an air of demonstration pieces about them, of mere triumphs of determination over artistry. Hespe has wisely included some of Cogan's rectangular canvases, though several of these also, especially "Surf Motel" (2012), evoke oceanside moods and light.

Read more:

Kim Cogan: Sea Change: Paintings. Through Oct. 2. Hespe Gallery, 251 Post St., S.F. (415) 776-5918.

Read more:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kim Cogan Sea Change, September 4 - October 2

Known for his atmospheric city portraits, Cogan was moved to rethink his approach to composition and technique. After years of working with rigid, angular structures on quadrilateral canvases, Cogan decided to compose his wave paintings on oval panels. “Ovals mimic the cylindrical, free-flowing shape of the wave,” he says of his chosen form. “I wanted to design a unique approach to depict the waves on a surface that has no corners or straight edges.”

Trained to work from observation, but unable to work from life, Cogan’s process involved the piecing together of thousands of photos in an attempt to capture the singular moment of a breaking wave. The finished paintings are referenced from several photographs, assembled together in sporadic brushstrokes to convey a sense of motion, color and mood.

Sea Change is both a meditation on and representation of a transformation for Cogan. It is a progression that captures the ever-shifting process of an artist’s work.