San Francisco

Howard Hack

Harbor Gallery

Hack’s sudden shift in attitude splits this one­-man show in half. On one wall are early works, small, low-keyed studies of Mex­ico. Their most interesting feature is Hack’s use of yellowish, dense space to give the figures an unearthly look and to flatten the canvas. The other wall contains Hack’s recent paintings, ostensibly studies of pavement and sewer-covers. However, his whole effect is destroyed by flashy, irrelevant paint­ing techniques. For instance, Hack tex­tures his canvases by scraping them down with a knife. This ploy has noth­ing to do with the subject at hand or with the main body of his work. Virtu­oso action painting is not an acquired trait, but an outlook. These paintings have neither the hesitancy of a man tak­ing up a new position in art, nor the sincerity that comes from a belief in this position.

He is technically prodigiously talent­ed. He draws beautifully, and is a past master of a large variety of painting techniques, as these paintings, as well as his award-winning painting in the recent Oakland Museum “Painted Flower” exhibition indicate. If Hack, who is young, can find the content to match his form, his possibilities will be limitless.

Joanna C. Magloff