Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng
Continuing through August 31, 2017
The San Francisco satirist Ambrose Bierce defined painting as “the art of protecting flat surface from the weather and exposing them to the critic.” San Franciscan Chad Hasegawa, known for his mural work, has created a body of abstract paintings on canvas that focuses on the issues of working outside (although, curiously, there is no mention of exposure to sidewalk critics): i.e., dealing with “wind, dust, and all angles of direct sunlight of all hours of the day.” Hasegawa aims for long-term survival “as if [the works] were outside in heavy conditions” — as well as for the immediate visual impact necessary for the street.
These large latex (“bucket paint”) and acrylic works, with their geometric shapes, eccentric and sometimes complex, suggesting three dimensions; their taped edges; and their textured paint, are monumental, in accordance with the artist’s admiration for the abstract expressionists Franz Kline, Phillip Guston, Joan Mitchell and Robert Motherwell; yet they’re also personal, befitting their inspiration in the traditional quilts of the artist’s native Hawaii, where these handmade objects are regarded as serious artifacts (as some of us continue to regard paintings). Hasegawa’s palette derives from the “royalty colors” of Hawaiian kings and queens, as do his high-contrast graphic compositions, which derive not from the natural world, as do traditional quilts, but today’s cultural world, and personal associations. Four small paintings, “Kahuku,” “Waianae,” “Haleiwa” and “Kapo Lei,” aligned vertically, constitute a symbolic map of four districts of Honolulu. The large works from the "Lean On & Against" series exemplify Hasegawa’s aesthetic of harmony through contrast, of painterly intuition layered into dynamic equipoise.