Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kim Cogan at Sue Greenwood Fine Art

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under cityscape painting, contemporary realism

Kim Cogan Stairway 2008, Oil on Canvas 48″x32″

A few days ago I was lucky to get up to Laguna Beach to the Sue Greenwood Fine Art cityscape group show (up through June 29th) where four Kim Cogan’s paintings were on view. I saw his solo show at his NYC gallery the Gallery Henoch back in 2008 and have been smitten by his work.

This young painter (Born 1977 Pusan, Korea) is already establishing himself as a major talent in the realist cityscape genre. He studied at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco where he lives and paints much of his subject matter, especially views of Chinatown. His work probably can’t truly be called perceptual painting as it is clearly studio based and he seems to work from multiple photos of a scene manually composited into an expanded perspective. However, his work is more about visual issues than conceptual ones. His dramatic viewpoints often with strong perspective diagonals draws you into the painting and the marvelous play of interlocking shapes keeps you in the painting.

Lime Light 2009 (?), Oil on Canvas 18×24

He paints with a gutsy Zen-like control/non-control where there is calligraphic feel to the way large shapes of color are constructed. He paints with a refined, basically tonal palette, often with the painting having predominantly muted tones that sets off a central area of higher chroma as seen in his masterful “Lime Light” in the show. It’s hard not to think of Hopper looking at his work, specifically, the MFA’s “Drugstore” of 1927.

Sweet Tooth 2009, 54″ x 60″

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his work is how he unites the painting with the light and merges forms into broad groupings with lost and found edge – which strengthens the overall abstract configuration. There seems to be nothing out of place except perhaps for the occasional splatter and drips of paint that seems to ask the viewer to appreciate the tactile surface and to celebrate the paint’s physicality. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always ring true to me. His masterly control of the brush and studio calculations contradicts notions of the vigorous looseness often seen as scrapes, marks, drips resulting from the urgency in chasing quickly changing light and of rapidly changing ideas, moods and decisions.

T.L. Rooftops, 2009, Oil on Canvas 24″ x 36″

In Antonio Lopez Garcia paintings, another artist I think of when looking at Cogan’s work, the hand of the artist is clearly visible, not polished smooth despite the extreme control, but this “rough hewn” quality follows logically out of Lopez Garcia’s corrections and alterations – a natural result of his process. Perhaps a better painter to consider along these lines is Alex Kanevsky where the drips are even more central to the painting. As much as I love and respect Kanevsky’s work I am less enamored when realist painters feel compelled to recreate this looseness that seemingly asks for validation to their modern/post-modern sensibilities. Understandably many young realists are conscience of many galleries avoidance of anything seeming too academic but good painting will been seen regardless. Clearly that is the case with Cogan’s work. He is not just painting highly accomplished urban scenes but they also reveal a deep connection to his identity and visual world. You can follow his amazing paintings, musing and writings about his art on his blog. Here is a link to a 2005 interview with him.
Finally, a couple more paintings and some brief video footage of him and his work below.

Late Afternoon at Bowling Green, 2008, Oil on Canvas 30″ x 36″

Astroland Oil on Canvas 24″x60″

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5 Responses to “Kim Cogan at Sue Greenwood Fine Art”
  1. Rebecca Harp says:

    Thank you for posting this. I truly appreciated it, especially your reference to his studio work as opposed to his work from life. One can work from nature and learn so very much about the workings of certain things and then sort it out in your studio, but you cannot practice at noticing the divine in curves and angles, you need to feel it with your own eyes.

  2. Robert says:

    Hard working guy. Excellent painter.

  3. Kim Cogan’s repertoire of hard/soft/lost edges, his knowing distortions, his dynamic use of space are very much his own. Yet his fundamental attraction to the painting process sets him down among a growing number of artists for whom a photographic vision is not enough. And while he is clearly influenced by urban realist painters from this country, as well as his self-appointed master, Antonio Lopez-Garcia, he has found a niche that is not yet overcrowded. With Mr. Cogan light – whether it comes in “with the day” or is flicked on with a switch – comes first. And for that I am almost as grateful as I was when, as a teenager, I started browsing through a stack of books my mother had presented to me years before: books that showed what Pissarro could do with a brace of poplars; Sisley’s inundations; Monet’s choppy fields.

    I am thrilled with, and daunted by, Cogan’s “chops.” Such an accomplished artist should not be so absurdly youthful.

  4. Andrew Liss says:

    Kim is one of my favorite painters – thundering underground feel & appeal and yet is as well painted if not better then most showing in NYC’s Chelsea Art District.
    To see more of his work go to this site:

    *****Cogan’s next SOLO SHOW
    will open at
    Gallery Henoch, September 22, 2011******
    —————come to the free party to celebrate – from 6-8 pm.——————————-

  5. SuperRachel411 says:

    Great work!! Can’t wait for your show at GALLERY HENOCH on Sept. 22- Oct 15th!!

    555 West 25th St.
    New York, NY 1001

    (t) 917 305 0003

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