Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective

Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective

I saw the introduction of this exhibit on the SFMOMA newsletter, the photos they chose to show on both print and web didn’t impress me. Another realistic painter, I thought to myself, why not just get a camera?

We were in SFMOMA today so we checked out the show. Surprisingly, I fell in love with Bechtle’s paintings. There is something astonishingly beautiful in those canvases on the wall, and that beauty was completely lost in print or on a monitor. It was the quality of light in the Bay Area. It was what I always love about sunny days here. His paintings captured them so well. Astonishing. Even though his subject matters seemed so mundane: concrete drive ways, hilly but tree-less streets, rows after rows of two-story houses with featureless bay windows. The light fell onto them made them shine, almost translucent. Those clean and crisp light of Northern California, fluid, sparklingly alive, passed from frame to frame, illuminating the simple composition, captivating me, making me speechless.

When we walked out of the exhibition hall, Mi turned to me, “He is painting light.” Yes, that’s it. He is painting light. He is painting the essence of light, the happiness of light. Something above and beyond the reality could have been captured by a camera.

The earlier paintings were from Alameda, and the more recent ones are based largely on Potrero Hill district of SF.

We’ve been to this intersection quite often because there is a Muslim restaurant we liked called Old Mandarin about two blocks away. I have never seen sky like this there. But how i love that light!


Robert Bechtle
Vicente Avenue & 40th. Intersection
1989
Oil on linen
48 x 69 inches

Here is another one that i really love.


Robert Bechtle
Twentieth Street-Early Sunday Morning
1997
36/66 inches

Picture on a computer monitor doesn’t do justice to these paitings. You have to go and check it out in person! 🙂

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