Regina Bogat

New York

at Zürcher


For the second time in under a year, Zürcher mounted an exhibition by the 86-year-old artist Regina Bogat, who was a familiar enough figure in the New York art world from 1966 to ’77, the years covered, but is little known today. Adhering painted wooden strips or small sections of dowels to canvas, or attaching colored threads in various configurations, Bogat staked out a position midway between the Post-Minimalism of Eva Hesse (a friend) and the hard-edge color of Nicholas Krushenick. Married to Alfred Jensen, 25 years her senior, Bogat shared his interest in the vocabularies of non-Western cultures. Her long marriage to such a well-known artist may have eclipsed her own work, despite the fact that she had already fully developed her style by the time she and Jensen married in 1963, and had actually met him at a show of her own.

In the large vertical painting Quetzal (1968), narrow strips of wood are ranged in even, horizontal intervals, as in an Agnes Martin painting, against a surface of Jasper Johns gray. The wood is striped in various hues, although these read more as dashes or, perhaps, stitching. Indeed, one wonders if Bogat’s practice a few years later of incorporating thread and cord was suggested by the tendency of the earlier wooden strips to appear almost as if sewn rather than glued. In Mackay (1967), Bogat digressed from the grid with orange and blue strips that trace unsteady diagonals across a mustard ground. For the Aztec-tinged Coble (1968), she crisscrossed the strips under two thick zigzag lines and over three small painted rectangles running vertically. Yellow ground, bright blue zigzags, red and black strips and rectangles: the palette is quirky and the rhythm syncopated.

Throughout Bogat’s work there is an engaging interplay between formula and deviation. She might, for example, attach her cords in a straight-on grid (Woven Painting 1, 1973) but in colors that dislodge its regularity. The shapes that block out the surfaces in “Threaded Pieces” (1972-73), a series of small works on paper, are pretty straightforward geometry, but the rainbow hues of the threads and her tendency to blur their lines by clipping them into pom-poms or tangling their descents make for unpredictable effects. In one of the most formally adventurous works in the show, an untitled mixed-medium painting on canvas (1973), Bogat superimposed a blue-and-yellow poured-paint outline of a circle over a grid that is partly threaded, partly painted and drawn.

In a third category of work, she cut wooden dowels painted gray into small sections of uneven length, massing them over surfaces, ends out. In Jeanne d’Arc (1969), they cover a freestanding form shaped something like a helmeted head (hence the title). In between the dowel-encrusted sections are flat areas painted red and blue; the largest painted part, just beneath the “cap,” is articulated in jagged triangles suggesting either filed teeth or a prickly disposition. In the equally lovely Stardate (ca. 1964), the support is flat, and the massed gray dowels act like tesserae in an ancient mosaic. Within the dowels, a path is opened for red and blue lines to trace a pair of doodled shapes. They lie there like some obscure graffiti, perhaps a message about the paths taken by that era’s wayward abstraction.