San Francisco

Harry Bowden and Eugene Courtois

Frederick Hobbs Galleries

Landscapes and figures by a refugee from abstraction, and sensitive studies of falcons and torsos by a young unknown. Harry Bowden (Calif.), a onetime student of, and later, assistant to Hans Hofmann, was one of the first American artists to break through into abstraction. Recently returned to figuration, Bowden builds up his landscapes, the better of his works in this show, from an “inner painting” much in the manner of Cézanne, finishing with energetic strokes of fat paint in rich color. This loose surface brushwork is the only remaining trace of Hofmann’s influence. He often uses a bridge as the central structure of a landscape, as a foil for masses of greenery. This, of course, was a device effected by Cézanne. But, whereas Cézanne deliberately destroyed emotional quality by intellectualizing design, Bowden stresses subject more than method.

Eugene Courtois’ first solo show, except for a couple of ineffectual watercolors, has been carefully selected. His drawings are amazingly expressive, whether concerned with single variable line or cross-hatched tones built up to suggest volume with contour as line. The prints, broader in treatment, reflect this respect for volume. Birds of prey and the female torso furnish most of his subject matter. He touches on the fringe of nightmare in “Roomful of Birds,” a cherrywood block print, and on mythology in “Eurydice in Hades,” but fails to develop the full value of the subject in either of these prints.

Elizabeth M. Polley