Joshua Hagler: The Adopted
JAUS is very pleased to present The Adopted, the first Los Angeles solo exhibition by artist/painter Joshua Hagler. Employing a virtuosic arsenal of marks, scrapes, brushstrokes and drips characteristic of his more recent paintings, Hagler responds to Western genre films with works that transition effortlessly between figuration and abstraction from passage to passage, and piece to piece. Filmic references serve as departure points into meditations on the spiritual condition of the “Colonist,” a recurrent archetype within the artist’s oeuvre. In addition, Hagler will present a new video piece entitled “Between Winds” that follows the same conceptual thread as his paintings.
Like his mark-making strategies, Hagler utilizes a similarly diverse array of surfaces and media such as canvas, wood panels, polyester film, ink, latex, silicone, wax, plaster, and oil paint in the realization of his painted works. Quotes and situations within the films from which the artist appropriates often dictate the manner in which the paintings are conceived. For example, in a fight scene from Little Big Man, the protagonist, a Cheyenne warrior played by Dustin Hoffman, beckons to his cavalryman assailant, “Do I have to cut your throat for you to see that I’m white? Now give me something to wipe this paint off with!” Considering this line his cue, Hagler made the decision to scrape away at the surface of one of his paintings-in-progress, removing layers of paint in order get to some essential quality that resists discovery. The palette knife thus becomes an instrument to uncover hidden layers, a process the artist likens to picking at scabs or dry skin in an attempt to disclose something hidden within the work’s history both literally and figuratively.
The twelve-minute single-channel video entitled “Between Winds” collages and re-contextualizes moments from iconic western films. Hagler draws attention to parallel motifs that recur in these motion pictures, revealing underlying themes of cultural amnesia, self vs other, and what anthropological philosopher Rene Girard refers to as “conflictual mimesis” in the process.
Both Hagler’s paintings and video piece reference imagery from films in which either white characters are adopted into American Indian tribes or white actors play native roles. His work points to a post-colonial anxiety which resides within a greater cultural and societal desire for simpler and less morally ambiguous relations between ‘self’ and ‘other’ as expressed in the source material. This relationship between anxiety and desire is tempered by the artist’s own self-conscious need to reconcile historical atrocities with the often distorted and anesthetized mainstream narratives.
The Adopted is a travelling exhibition initially presented at La Sierra University’s Brandstater Gallery in Riverside, CA.
After having worked for over a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, Joshua Hagler relocated to Los Angeles in early 2014. He is known mainly for his large-scale semi-figurative canvases often underpinned by well-known 19th-century paintings of the American West and stills from Western films. Since 2006, he has exhibited his paintings and multimedia installations throughout North America and abroad, including several solo exhibitions. Hagler’s work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Italian Vogue, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), Art LTD, Juxtapoz, Beautiful Decay, Art News, San Francisco Magazine.
In 2013, Hagler traveled for three months with partner and collaborator Maja Ruznic through Eastern and Western Europe, and Syrian refugee camps throughout Jordan. During this process, Hagler and Ruznic had made art with war refugees and the terminally ill while creating the art book DRIFT. The same year Hagler had his first individual museum exhibition at Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois.
In 2014, Hagler has had solo shows at Avis Frank Gallery in Houston and Galleri Oxholm in Copenhagen. He has also shown in several cities around the world such as New York, Tokyo, Hamburg, Vienna and Basel. Recently, his work has also been included in group exhibitions at Torrance Art Museum, Masur Museum of Art in Louisiana, and Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts.
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