|Man on Wall, 2012, Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 in.|
A. This painting has many reference points. One source are these ancient statues that depicted men and women crouching down. One shows a woman crouching down with two dog men with large penises on both sides of the woman. I thought it was such an interesting image and I repeatedly drew them in a sketchbook with both my hands moving at the same time, mirroring each other. I kept breaking the image down and noticed that I kept drawing men that looked like babies with large muscles. I thought they were very funny and was also making a lot of paintings of brick walls at the time. I decided to combine the two into a painting. The second source is probably shocking to some, but it's Henri Matisse. I was and still am very obsessed with Matisse's early paintings. They are such beautiful images and I got sucked into his world full of beautiful apartments, oriental rugs, models, children playing the piano, the quotidian elevated to such a high level. I really wanted to make paintings like his. But the more I thought about it, I realized that that was his life. I couldn't try to force myself to paint as if I lived in Nice with my wife and had models come over to pose every day. And I thought that maybe there were already too many paintings of beautiful nude women in the world. I realized that my painting of this man baby had to go against Matisse. I was thinking of this man as older, a sort of Ubermensch with flowing and thinning golden hair. He had to have large muscles that were somehow completely anatomically impossible and absurd. And he had to have white skin. White people are evil, like most people are, but we've been in control for so long and look how fucked up the world is as a result. I want to make fun of that strength, of having our greasy paws on the button that could end it all. And to me the only way to approach all this is with humor. Nicanor Parra said it best, "Real seriousness rests in the comic." And the last reference point I will mention is the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. He had a similar philosophical world view that reminds me of Baudelaire's dichotomy between the Spleen vs. the Ideal. Gombrowicz writes about our faults and creates beautifully absurd stories of never ending human misunderstanding and immaturity. I have been blown away by his diaries that he wrote for over 20 years as an exile in Buenos Aires to escape the second World War. I think this sums up a lot of the things I've addressed with my work over the last two and a half years:
"Nietzscheism and its affirmation of life? Why Nietzsche didn't have the least idea about these things, it is difficult to imagine something more tawdry, ridiculous, or in worst taste than his superman and his young human beast, no, it's not true, not completeness, but inadequacy, worseness, inferiority, immaturity are appropriate to that which is still young. i.e. alive. Then I was not yet aware that various existentialisms (which did not become well known until after the war) were battering their brains over difficulties similar to mine, tied to the desire to understand life in the raw, in motion. Try to understand my loneliness and the internal contradiction which became a crack throughout my entire artistic undertaking: as an artist I was called to strive for perfection, but I was drawn to imperfection: I was supposed to create values, however something like subvalue or imperfect value was what I really valued. I exchanged the Venus de Milo, Apollo, the Parthenon, the Sistine Chapel and all the Bach fugues for one trivial joke expressed with the lips of those related to degradation, with lips that were themselves degraded..."
I think that sort of sums up this painting. But I try not to really think about what my art means, or why I make it. It takes the fun out of it all when you reason in a circle. I usually just end up dizzy.
A. First of all, I want to say fuck you to Houston. Wait, no, I take that back. I just came home from a wonderful bike ride through North Boulevard and South Boulevard, and then along the bike track at Rice University. The beautiful big trees along the Boulevards brought my mind into the sublime realm. The warm wet air was caressing my body as the breeze blew through me into the dark night. I listened to Frank Ocean's album that got me through another sizzling Summer. The quiet night was slumbering in the neighborhood that I will never live in due to the financial instability that I endure for the curse of art that bit me so long ago. It was somewhat wet since it rained earlier in the day, and you could feel the moisture from the rain in the air. I thought about Houston and my last 8 years here. I thought about my friends and how they are truly geniuses. The love I felt for them made me feel like I was the strongest man in the universe. I have no idea why I'm here. I hated the first few years of my exile in Houston. But then I met people that I thought were amazing and they continue to astonish me with their talent, intellect and wit. They are what make this hellhole tolerable. It took me a long time to embrace Houston for it's ugly exterior. I had an epiphany a long time ago about Baudelaire and his Paris Spleen. I began to accept and love Houston for its lack of aesthetic inspiration. The strip malls, the fat people at Tex Mex restaurants, the concrete covered streets that seem to be nothing more than an ongoing abyss, these are the things that motivate me now. I go to other cities and meet other young art kids and when they ask me where I'm from, and I tell them Houston, it's always a look of astonishment that overtakes their face. I often explain that Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation and that there are so many amazing things happening here. They usually respond by saying, "Well I hear Austin is cool." And I usually say, "Fuck Austin. It's not that cool. Nothing more than trust fund hippies and digital bongs and hacky sack tournaments. It's a college town after all." Nobody ever seems convinced, but it's not my goal to prove anyone wrong. They will never visit Houston, and I don't blame them for their lack of interest. The art scene is there, it's happening, but I don't always feel like that is where the interesting things are going down. And the Menil is in my backyard and that is one of my favorite places on earth. But I don't really see myself here for the rest of my days. The more I travel, the more intrigued I feel by other places. So I love Houston and hate it at the same time. I also wish there were more spaces like the Joanna in Houston. Young artists, get your shit together. Let's make these Houston art world dinosaurs cringe through our art. Let's make them feel old and out of touch. They should feel uncomfortable because we won't go away. We won't quit. We won't let their lack of interest discourage. I am here and I refuse to sit back quietly while these core fellow assholes have their cake and eat it too. Let's fuck shit up. I want to see 15 Rimbauds at the next Main Street opening trying to stab the rich collector fucks while drunkenly dancing through the gallery spaces. Maybe they can sing songs in the most abhorrent voices imaginable. Remember, you only have to piss in the ocean to make the sea rise. So let's start pissing!!!!!!!!!
Lane Hagood is a novelist, poet, artist, animator and most recently a recipient of the MacArthur genius grant. He was born in Paris, France in 1992 and has lived in Houston for the last 8 years. Critics have hailed his thought paintings for their originality and banality. It was recently discovered that Hagood is the reincarnation of Orson Welles and Arthur Rimbaud. Although many sources have been proven, the fact of this reincarnation has been debated among critics and scholars alike. In 2014, the Menil Collection is set to unveil its most recent single artist gallery space dedicated to Hagood's thought paintings, created under the rational derangement of the senses in an artistic seance where Hagood becomes James Ensor, and channels the paintings through his fingertips. Hagood is also the director of The Lane Hagood Collection, a small museum inside his apartment. A selection of Hagood's recent works can be seen at the Pan Art Fair at the Embassy Suites in room 307 from October 18 at 6pm to October 21. Please bring him some money... panartfair.com