On February 11, the Corey Helford gallery in Culver City hosted an opening party for Shag’s latest exhibition of paintings entitled Animal Kingdom. His previous show here was the doom and gloom fest Autumn’s Come Undone in late 2009, but now Shag’s sophisticates are once again carelessly swilling martinis in brightly colored swank pads.
The place was packed from the get-go as folks lined up to get free commemorative posters (for the first 500 guests). More than half of the 15 new paintings had already been sold by the time we walked in. Shag himself (Josh Agle) was there posing for photos and signing things — you couldn’t miss him since he had donned a pair of antlers just like some of his art subjects.
The press release for this show notes that Shag found inspiration from a vintage costume pattern that simply modified the ears and tails to portray different animals. However, he also points out a more modern muse: “I’ve noticed a lot of teenagers and hipsters recently wearing hoodies and beanies with animal ears, antlers or horns. Maybe there is a subconscious urge to return to our animalistic natures.”
Wolves, bulls, birds, monkeys, and cats especially have frequently appeared alongside people in his works, often in an anthropomorphic manner. Here the theme is being turned around with the humans expressing their wild sides sartorially.
The centerpiece of the show was the eight-foot-long painting “Predators and Prey,” which was also my favorite for its nearly neon colors. Now if only I had $40,000 burning a hole in my pocket.
I did also dig some of the smaller pieces like the Catwoman-esque “Black Kitten in Purple,” which had two other complementary versions in green and orange.
In a neat tech-savvy twist, there was a little QR Code next to each painting. When you scanned each barcode with the camera on your smartphone, it took you to a special web page. I thought it might tell you the painting’s name or price, but instead it displayed a sentence or two to set the scene.
The best ones showed a wicked sense of humor, like this one for “Wayward Cub”…”She didn’t have a problem with Stevie’s drinking until the first drop of his Purple Rain hit the snowy white fur of her ex-husband.”
You can see the paintings on Shag’s site and read all those vignettes by clicking on the dots towards the bottom of the page. Animal Kingdom by Shag will be on display at the gallery through March 3, 2012.
Corey Helford Gallery
522 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232