I recently made a visit to OK Harris Galleries, in SoHo, to check out the latest exhibit of one of my favorite New York painters, Moses Hoskins. The new paintings expand on abstract visual motifs that the artist has been working with for the last couple of decades.
As an abstract painter, Hoskins is a bit of an enigma: his work is not easily placed into categories that the critical lexicon has established since the second world war with the sudden, spectacular rise of non-objective painting in America. His work is too opaque and perhaps a bit too blunt to fit in with the Color Field artists such as Helen Frankenthaler or even Sam Francis. The pastoral lyricism of his palette keeps him at arm’s length from the rowdier exponents of Abstract Expressionism. Not finding an easy frame of reference for understanding the work, some critics have resorted to making a comparison with the late work of Richard Diebenkorn: those fragile arcs and incised lines floating in between misty skeins of washed-out color do bear some superficial resemblance to the Ocean Park Series. But the light and atmosphere that is being evoked in Hoskins’ paintings seems all wrong for that comparison to stick for very long, once you see the actual pieces themselves. Such comparisons are a bit like trying to write about music: Beethoven is to Brahms as Mahler is to what? Miles Davis is to Funk as BeBop is to (fill in the blank). As it happens, I often find myself thinking of jazz when I look at a good Hoskins painting or collage.
Moses has a generous selection of his works on view at his website, along with some engaging photographs from his extensive travels in Europe, the Middle East and India.
The paintings are on view at OK Harris in Soho through October 17.