when paintings are like frosting...
i've been spending a bit of time with a 1969 exhibition catalog of paintings by bram bogart. i can't really speak as to why i keep going back to these images and thumbing through them. part of it is the catalog itself - with its screen printed deco font over acetate cover and yellow spiral binding, not to mention a very strange printing process and some of the paintings pictured outside in garden - but bogart's paintings also seem ripe for the moment. while they wear some of their late 60's pop aesthetic on their sleeves, the paintings would also be right at home in any number of hipster galleries in culver city or chinatown, seeming much more connected to los angeles painting than ny (at least in terms of recent history).
i didn't know bogart's work before i found the catalog, but it seems he's still painting, still painting thickly, and still following his own path. it's always kind of befuddling to discover someone who has been working for so long, showing for so long in well known galleries, and somehow escaping a presence in and amongst the mainstream artworld discourse. while many young artists probably have as little knowledge of bogart's work as i do, these paintings could, and perhaps should, be seen as some sort of precedence.
thumbing through old art magazines, there are always interesting works by artists who had their 15 seconds and disappeared; but there are also artists like bogart who have continued to follow a path over time, that for one reason or another are rarely discussed.
bogart's work from the late 60's reminds me a bit of judd's early paintings, in terms of a rich yet minimal palette, awkward clunky presence, and a hybrid of pop and minimal sensibility. bogart's paintings are less "odd" than judd's, feeling more comfortable than conflicted, and they have much more of a punch-y presence than judd's earliest works, which seem more inclined towards contemplation. the object-ness and surface qualities of bogart's paintings also suggests a bit of early ryman (who i would think would most likely cringe at such a comparison), but the physical landscape of both artist's works are what drives their power. of course, bogart's work seems to reek of a hurried troweled rough-edged skronky process, while ryman's whispers meditation and rigor... but both made (and still make) objects that converse with the possibilities of painting - and both accept and deny certain painting specifics.
bogart's work also has a bit of a cartoon-ish feel; but his formulaic process keeps them from being as experimental as someone like al taylor, and their static qualities keep them from being as animated (and erotic) as someone like john altoon... but there is a tension between pop's immediate slap in the face and the soft lathery surfaces that want to be touched.