Aaron Nagel x Shooting Gallery
June 3rd, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher
I’ve been a fan of Oakland based painter Aaron Nagel for years. I can’t quite recall where I first saw his rich, sensual paintings, only that they struck me with such force that I closed my eyes and they were still there. After my discovery I kept coming back, like a kid who’s found a cave in the woods behind their house, circling back again and again, peering from afar, closer each time, looking for warning signs that perhaps it is unsafe, or worse, unreal. I must have visited Nagel’s site a dozen times before reading that he was entirely self-taught. “Aha,” I thought, “You see, it is unreal.” A rabbit hole rather than a cave, all the more tempting to venture into. Last April I had the privilege of interviewing Aaron for Curbs, and learned a lot of fascinating things about his process and influences. Last month I received word that he is having another solo show at the Shooting Gallery in San Francisco opening June 11th, entitled A Thin Line. I can only imagine what kind of magic he has in store.
Shooting Gallery writes, “…Nagel exhibits an earnest admiration for classical oil painting techniques and traditions, and employs them to create lush, vivid renderings of the female form. Often in unconventional positions, the figures are frequently juxtaposed against carefully hand-lettered type, marked with glossy black paint, or encircled with halos of line and light. There has been some discussion over the religious aspect of Nagelís work, but he insists that he uses the female nude in his works Ė not only as a counterpoint, but as a supplement to the idea of the divine. The figures are strong, seductive and curious Ė an elegant mirror of the medium itself, and a fantastic display of Nagelís mastery within it.”
Nagelís most recent body of work expands upon the larger, more narrative works he is known for, and incorporates a new foray into smaller portrait-style works. A Thin Line alludes to both a new graphic element in many of the pieces, and the internal struggle he experienced while creating the series: finding himself torn between two seemingly disparate artistic directions.
Born 1980 in San Francisco, California, Aaron Nagel began drawing as a child and gradually made his way to painting. Upon discovering oils in his early twenties, he became enamored with the medium and has been obsessed ever since. Although he has had no formal training, he continues to relentlessly pursue a mastery of figurative surrealism from his home in Oakland, CA. Nagels’ work explores the potential to create a new sort of iconography for the non-believer, with subtle commentary on the trappings of organized religion and theism.”