Knight Gomez highlights mixed talents of artists


Ricardo Hoegg, one of four artists currently on exhibit at Knight Gomez (through May 25), creates works of considerable resonance when he succeeds.

"Mi Abuelo" (My Grandfather), his most successful painting here, shows a determined-looking elderly man, sitting straight-backed in a chair, hands folded on knees, in the middle of a landscape with a smoldering volcano in the distance. In this portrait/landscape, which borders on the surreal, the old man at once represents the best and the worst of age as seen through the eyes of the young -- its authority, its determination, its stubbornness, its preference for the past over the future.

"Un Desaparecido" (The Missing One) shows a wheelbarrow with what appears to be a hand in front of it disappearing into -- quicksand? The painting is notable for its texture and glints of light.

On the other hand, Hoegg can be disappointing. Some of his works here, such as "Mis Hermanos" (My Brothers) and "Anciano" (Old Man), evoke an immediate response but on closer inspection contain awkwardness that causes the viewer to wonder why Hoegg sent them out as finished works. He's a tantalizing artist, promising more than he delivers.

Juan F. Bastos, by contrast, is an accomplished artist whose pastels are particularly good, their colors almost glowing, but his images can be off-putting in their banality. In "Swimmers," a couple embraces in the water, and holds a seashell. This is a blend of Christian imagery and carnal love, according to the artist's statement, but the picture itself does not really set up such a tension; if anything it's close to sentimental. One can, however, enjoy Bastos' pastels quite aside from their subject matter.

Dwayne Franklin's tiny oils, some of them based on bits and pieces of renaissance paintings, are jewels of chiaroscuro and of texture, grainy light emerging from and disappearing into velvety dark. What's represented, usually some part or parts of a body, can be almost erotic because of the veiled, suggestive light; but one can respond to these delicate little works as abstractions, too.

In the office or "front" gallery are photographs by Alan Scherr, who presents beautifully toned pictures of Dumbarton Oaks and of Cape Cod that have the aura of a past remembered. Light plays across them gently, endowing the ripple of a piece of cloth or a crack in plaster with a kind of nostalgia, and they radiate a sense of quiet, as if we had revisited a scene of long ago and were listening in vain for the return of familiar voices. Scherr's straight nature photography impresses less than his other work here.

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