Murray Hochman: New Dimensions
March 4 through May 7, 2023
By JONATHAN GOODMAN, April 2023
Now 88 years old with a house and studio in Tyringham, Massachusetts, Murray Hochman continues to make lyric abstractions, both as painting and sculptures. He is old enough to have been a student in New York when abstraction was still dominant. His work today inevitably involves memories or traces of this manner of working, but he also advances themes that are new, even though he is working within a tradition dating back to the previous century. Hochman's show, located at KinoSaito Art Center in Verplanck, in upstate New York, demonstrates how the memory of a style can inspire an artist to new inventions.
KinoSaito, an old school building, was beautifully renovated by Mikiko Ino, partly in memory of her late husband, Kikuo Saito, an abstract painter who taught at the Art Students League and who used the building as a studio. The space, comprising two floors, has two galleries on the first floor and, on the second floor, two studios for resident artists and a large open gallery space designed for performance. Hochman's exhibition, on the second floor, includes floor work and paintings in an abstract manner. The exhibition includes nearly thirty examples of art. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in the review to represent the artist in full; people will need to see the art on site. The large gallery gives the work room to breathe, and the show should be seen in full. It is hoped, by concentrating on three works, the review can nonetheless convey the extent of Hochman’s accomplishments.
Camouflage Tower is composed of plywood, plastic, and aerosol paint. It is a rough rectangle supported by a low pedestal, and rises about four feet in the air. Its colors are mute: dark green, near black, gray. The colors do align with those Hochman uses in his paintings but it appears that the volume of the mass and its uneven surfaces, are the sculpture’s central feature. The beautiful Large Orange Chip Painting, 2022, has a background of burnt orange. Three horizontal rows of vertical white paint chips colored in a various manner, embellish the single-color background. The painting is fully frontal, with the white strips adding contrast in hue and structure to the flat surface of deep orange. Its energies belong to a monochromatism enhanced by skilled presentation of structure. Greenish Camouflage Assemblage, also made this year, is a rough relief of gray, black, and green coloring overlapping folds of plywood, plastic and aerosol paint. The piece looks a lot like a complex landscape dense with uneven surface, as if it were a collection of surfaces as yet untouched by time.
Given these sculptural works, it seems clear that Hochman is also interested in volume and its accompanying projection of space. Color, a major determining factor in surface, is equally important, though a show like this places Hochman at the center of the ongoing commitment of many artists to the American way of painting, which is action-oriented and sees paint as a material to be used quite actively. Of course, there is nothing wrong or unimaginative in doing so, but, as the artist's work shows, the action implies that Hochman is interested in showing activity in his work as much as he is in making objects. Hochman's show is not about stilled motion, but, instead, about implied motion, which renders the work active and alive.WM
Jonathan Goodman is a writer in New York who has written for Artcritical, Artery and the Brooklyn Rail among other publications.
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