Drawing inspiration from tropes of exploration and adventure Michael Kagan paints as a form of erosion eating away at iconic images from the 70s and 80s. What interpretations is he making of these moments of peak Modernism? Is it a mash-up? A rehash? An appropriation? or an idealistic return to hope?
Kagan’s work emphasises the visibility of his brushwork, which in turn emphasises the hand of the artist in representing these moments of adventure, and it’s the juxtaposition of the personal execution of the painting and the social construction of these events – space travel, mountaineering, car racing – that gives his work a sense of distance from what might be read as a reclamation of teenage fantasies. The heavy brushstrokes suggests the artist knows the subject matter comes from emotionally and by working with an impressionistic consideration of those moments is putting the process ahead of the representation. We are seeing the act of remembering rendered with an energetic melancholy but also a connection to the hopeful essence of human potential. A factor, one imagines that appeals to collectors and collaborators such as Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezaw, Nike CEO Mark Parker, and musician Pharrell Williams all of whom practice philosophies of expansion and increase.
“Michael Kagan: It Lasts Forever” is the first time the artist has exhibited at the London gallery, following his 2021 exhibition “How We Remember” at Almine Rech Brussels. Michael Kagan is a Brooklyn-based artist known for producing oil paintings with large, expressive brush strokes. Kagan explores the physical and emotional journey that accompanies explorers from mountaineers to astronauts. His dramatic paintings depict humans pushing the limits of nature through physical stamina and technology. Michael uses thick, deliberate brush strokes that convey a decisive hand and the power of his subject matter.
Born in 1980 in Virginia Beach, Michael Kagan received his BA from The George Washington University and MFA from New York Academy of Art, where he also completed a postgraduate fellowship in 2005. Special projects include a commission from The Smithsonian, two apparel collaborations with Pharrell Williams, and album cover artwork for The White Lies album Big TV which won an Art Vinyl award for Best Art Vinyl, 2013. He recently had a solo exhibition at Virginia MOCA, Virginia Beach, VA, USA (2019/2020).
Kagan’s work is in the collections of the Hall Collection, Reading, VT, USA; Maezawa Collection, Chiba, Japan; Maki Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Gemini Trust Company, New York, NY, USA; Fidelity Investments Corporate Contemporary Art Collection, Boston, MA, USA; Founders Fund, San Francisco, CA, USA; and Jacob & Co., New York, NY, USA amongst others. He has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. A recent monograph of his work was released in 2019 by ARTBOOK | DAP.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle