San Francisco

Hassel Smith

Suzanne Saxe Gallery

A show of Hassel Smith’s paintings from 1963 and 1964 has turned up at a new gallery, the Suzanne Saxe Gallery. These paintings have never been exhibited before, perhaps because they are quite free, loose and gestural after the manner of an earlier Smith phase, whereas the paintings that I recall from that period were more architectural. One is like a fireworks display, but in cool colors; another has objects that seem to have broken through from the subconscious: stocking, deer, and in another a laughing boyish face, never refined or perfected but accepted as a revealing accident. Smith has written from England where he now lives that he is working more figuratively.

I was looking for an exhibition of paintings to write about, perhaps out of nostalgia; the galleries are showing everything but, and yet I know that there are a multitude of painters working here. I decided to make an effort to seek out a few painters in shows in the hinterlands of the Bay region, or to go to the studios; I did both.

Knute Stiles