Fine Arts: Paintings by William B. Hogan on display at the Pennswood Art Gallery
Are you in the mood for something a little different these days? Fine art, but with a touch of imagination? Something surreal? Something to start your own imagination? If so, you will find that your consciousness goes to high alert as soon as you walk into the Pennswood Village Art Gallery in Newtown, Pa., Where artist William B. Hogan exhibits a collection of his latest paintings.
Hogan says his usual practice, dating back to the 1970s, has always been to sketch all of his work. âWith these paints,â he says, âI started directly on the surface without sketching first with an underpaint of several colors, then I spontaneously drew many images as quickly as possible with pen and pencil. ‘ink. Totally different from previous paintings. I was so inspired.
It was then, he says, that he took these painted surfaces to his easel and began the process of structure, composition and design, especially looking for rhythms of color to tie everything together.
âTo be honest, I don’t know why I came to this process. It was spontaneous, however. Maybe it was the COVID-19 quarantine that took me to the next level, pushing the boundaries. “
Hogan’s artistic training dates back to when he was in sixth grade and won a competition to cover a Christmas pageant program. He went on to graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York, two years in the military where he won a prize in the US Army World Art Competition, obtaining an MFA in painting from the University of the Americas in Mexico City, teaching arts and crafts in college in New Mexico and landing at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, NJ. For years he worked there as an illustrator and designer, publishing over 7,000 illustrations and cartoons.
It is difficult to try to pin down the exact words to describe Hogan’s paintings. A good way to start your visit to this exhibition might be to stand in the center of the gallery and slowly let your eyes travel from one painting to another and to the next. Then ask yourself what you notice first. I suspect it could be the color, then the rhythm. Then slowly, individual shapes begin to emerge and grab your attention. You start to see roads and buildings, trees, plants and people. There are animals and automobiles, tumbling tumblers and oozing tubes of paint, birds, bullets and unidentified flying objects.
It would be good at this point to move on to each individual painting where the composition and targeted placement of colors come together and bring all the various figures, shapes and objects into their proper place.
You might then ask if the paintings tell a story. A glance at the title may give you an idea of ââwhat Hogan was thinking when he painted or finished the artwork, but he says he prefers that we bring our own life experience to our view of his work. .
It is however interesting to note that certain elements appear repeatedly in the majority of his works. Often there are buildings, sloping and leaning like a storybook. Musical instruments are presented in rhythmic forms. And there are almost always winding roads and climbing mountains, curving trees and floating, spinning and dancing figures.
And on occasion, the artist himself appears as in “Me, my brush and me”. In it, Hogan presents a realistic image of himself holding his favorite paintbrush as he stands in front of a backdrop of lifelike cows and surreal figures, the ubiquitous winding road and steps up the side of a vast hill to a ghostly house at the top.
The same winding road appears in “On The Road” but, oddly enough, the center of attention is at the bottom of the shot of the image where the white nailed toes of one foot protrude from the torn toe of a large, worn shoe. suggesting he’s in a quick pursuit of a smaller running figure whose nearest foot is also shod in a large, worn-out shoe.
You can hear Hogan discussing this painting, and others in the exhibit, in a video interview at https://pennswood.org/art-gallery/.
This exhibition joins Hogan’s solo exhibitions and several juryed exhibitions in many states. His work is in the permanent collections of the Newark Museum and the Billie Ireland Museum of Cartoon Art at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
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