Critics’ Picks

Kim Cogan, Pay Little, 2019, oil on canvas, 30 x 42".

Kim Cogan, Pay Little, 2019, oil on canvas, 30 x 42".

San Francisco

Kim Cogan

Hashimoto Contemporary
804 Sutter St.
September 7–September 28, 2019

San Francisco represents the far edge of colonial expansion, an apocalyptic end zone. The gold rush dwindled in the nineteenth century. The beats got jobs, the hippies bought houses, the artists had to move to Oakland. Change is the only constant. Kim Cogan’s impressionistic paintings of the city feature its anti-landmarks—corner stores, relic motels, cars oxidizing from Pacific fog—while carefully attending to telephone wires, peeling paint, and vacant sidewalks. His attention to these scenes demonstrates an intimate concern for the ever-shifting city.

Cogan works from a combination of reference photographs and memories; his photo-realistic compositions are infused with a sense of longing and are blurred by the imprecision of recollection. For example, the show’s titular painting pulls the now-shuttered Evergreen Pharmacy into the present. In an interview for Juxtapoz, the artist describes his process as “not a replication of a photo but rather an emphasis of mood.” With tenderness and a phenomenologist’s sensitivity, he portrays gently sloped streets and frequented neighborhood stores. The compositions interrupt the city’s seamless flow of visual information to transform seemingly banal scenes into an extraordinary portrait of home.

Cogan’s tight framing encourages one to look for omissions. The tech boom’s influx of capital, for instance, is not pictured. A landscape painting of the city’s skyline ignores its newest addition—Salesforce’s phallic tower—and instead looks toward residential neighborhoods, including the Sunset and Richmond districts. Although loss can often feed nostalgia, the show’s title emphasizes a sense of continuity. “Evergreen” has an orphic quality: It looks simultaneously to the past and the future.