August 3, 2020

Paintings by Hogan Brown, Langham Gallery, Lambs Conduit Street

You’re born, live a little (geographically speaking, even octogenarians are but a blink compared to how the mantle buckles mm by mm) then die. If this is news to you, I apologise. And all usually within four walls. Not the same, but in one of a few variations. Unless you are the outdoorsy type, and even then, whatever kind of  cliff-scaling, mountain-peak-atop-ing adrenalin junkie you might be, you will know the territory of many of these paintings.

In hallways, seen through doorways, in in-between places – landings, on the front step, in a complex corridor where rooms give way to other rooms – anonymous characters in Hogan’s paintings are glimpsed living. Or is it caught living? Caught in the act of a private, seemingly innocuous task or a moment of contemplation. Waiting, or hurrying past.

The room is a character. Sparse furniture is arranged like religious artefacts. The bleakness of an empty chair. Complex quadrilaterals of shade coalesce about the doorways which frame split seconds. The paintings on walls. I’ve seen this before: these are fragments of my life reflected. The rooms threaten to open up more doors and keep opening into infinity like two mirrors up against one another. Inside the calm is threat.

Folded into Hogan’s interiors are echoes. He opens doors into an art historical past, a clear lineage can be discerned. Like a domestic Casper David Friedrich of that chap on a mountain, Caillebotte’s man ponders the street. He only had a moment to come to rest inside himself before whatever came next – the rest of his life. This is reflected in Hogan’s work: snatches of life lived privately. Moments of calm.

And look at Hammershoi: haunted by the same trapped air. Rooms opening themselves to reveal space in which to quickly live. Table legs. Windows. Humans’ predilection for the rectangular. Organised. Yearning.

Sickert’s sickeningly draining Ennui.

In Hogan’s understated and resonant scenes, there is an art to opening doors and it is a serious art. We are allowed only so much. Experience is drip-fed, tantalisingly. There has been an emptying out. What is leftover clouts.

1 Comment on Paintings by Hogan Brown, Langham Gallery, Lambs Conduit Street

  1. Excellent post.
    The words here add another dimension to the painting they accompany. Truly linking them to one another, as well as all who view them.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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