Lane lives with ghosts, lovers, poets, deadbeats, geniuses and beauties. His home is covered in images and ephemera of the world he adores. With a studio across the street from the Menil, Lane works 500 feet away from one of the world’s finest art collections; to paraphrase Porfirio Díaz I wrote this poem for him:
so close to the Menil
so far from Magritte.
In the middle of one of the country’s fastest growing art communities, Lane paints on holy ground founded on the profound greatness of creative making—that, and jokes:
Lane’s been hanging around Houston for a while, but grew up in California and spent time in the LA street scene before returning to Houston to win the Houston Press “Best Street Artist” award in 2005. In true Situationist fashion he took his art to public walls and ran from cops, but he soon grew tired of the scene and wanted to venture out as an artist:
"I have no regrets about any of the stuff I did out there. In fact, I’m proud of my artistic achievements in my studio and the stuff I gave away for free…it was tons of fun and I think I got out of the game at a good time. I know I had to get all that stuff out of my system and I have come along way from running from the police and hiding in dumpsters with crackheads. I think wanting to write on a wall is a normal, healthy thing to do.”
In 2010 Hagood won the Hunting Prize, a $50,000 honor given to his work Books I Have Possesed. Since then he has shown as far away as Bordeaux, France and as close as Tha Joanna and Domy Books here in Houston. We spoke about galleries and gallerists and how he feels his work can be misinterpreted stylistically. He recalled being approached with the statement “Oh so you’re an outsider artist.” which incited both laughter and honesty:
"I buy Artforum, I’m really engaged in the contemporary art scene and I don’t consider myself an outsider artist… but you know, outsider art influences me."
Influenced by street art, Flickr streams from across the internet, and Houston’s Sketch Klubb Lane’s style is not overreaching nor pedestrian but is a translation of imagery that reflects his daily life as a bibliophile, philosopher, and admirer of known and unknown artists.
Salon Lane Style
Bad Art / Guy Debord / Ennui / Death / Whatever …
Window and letters
Unlike so many young artists Lane does not add philosophical, aesthetic, or academic reasons to his work—the content is there because it exists in Lane himself. Yet, in a lot of his older pieces, the direct link between the artwork and himself was strained and I thought of this as I mentioned his last painting I saw at Lawndale Art Center, Satorial Advice, which I felt was labored and not as successful as other pieces:
Lane admitted Satorial Advice would be the last in that stylistic vein. It was a stopping point that now leads him into his next series:
Eyeball Painting, oil on canvas
Hand Painting, oil on canvas
Still up in his studio, we discussed the painting of Lane’s hand. Along with Eyeball Rug, these are his first attempts at large scale oil painting. Hand Painting is of the most honest autobiographical works I’ve seen from Lane. This piece wants to be a painter’s painting, but also relies on the clumsy nature of understanding oil paint for the first time:
Lane explained that he had some trouble with his hands cracking and bleeding over the course of the last few months which became the impetus for this work. Like so many artists before him, the hand represents a grand history. For centuries great painters whipped out their sable brushes like spaghetti western pistols to show up one another in their hand painting mastery. I imagine male painters, their egos hanging out at the Academy scoffing at fat fingers and badly painted veins. From Durer, La Tour, and Marizio Catalan the hand has been both a literal and metaphorical translation of the artist in his art.
Different from Hand Painting Lane’s newest work depicts a strange landscape reminiscent of the Casper David Friedrich book that sat in the chair in front of the canvas:
Mountains Painting, oil on canvas
Small Mountains Painting (a mock up for the larger piece)
“I think of these paintings as an interior landscape in a sense…there’s something very somber and almost sad that I’m really attracted to, it’s also calming. The first one I made I’ll never forget. It was November 25th 2008 and it was 85 degrees outside and so muggy and I hate this weather here and I just sat there and made a watercolor drawing…it came out of that longing, to be cold.”
Longing, so close to desire, is difficult; longing lies on an old mattress and wakes up next to sadness. Romanticism is the indention longing and sadness leave on an old mattress floating in the middle of the ocean. Mountains Painting is all of these things, but it’s also Lane’s and simply can’t be anyone else’s, this is what makes it a wondreful painting.
As a romantic I can empathize with Lane while he was making this landscape. What is terrifying is the reality of creating art out of that brooding sensibility so often clichéd and falsified: you create because your soul is indigo instead of banana yellow, you lost your past in the mountains and left your future on the beach, you can’t wake to dreaming, you dream to wake. Yet, poetics aside, what makes Lane’s paintings work are their awkward nature, not their call to the mystical cosmic internal struggle of the human condition. They are flawed and honest— like when you think of something funny in public and laugh out loud.
Lane’s new paintings may not be masterful due to their visual composition or academically skillful brushwork. Instead what allures is their convergence on the line between seeking internal peace with the universe and chewing up a burrito—a banal occurrence of tragic humor in the hope of the sublime. Like so many great artists Lane makes work because it simply must be that way today and most likely tomorrow:
“The older I get I believe in what Duchamp said: “I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists.” - Lane Hagood
LANE HAGOOD AT DOMY BOOKS : Domy Books, Austin Texas (913 E Cesar Chavez) | Opening Reception Saturday, June 2 | See it: June 2 - July 12, 2012
Very special thanks to Lane for sharing his studio and thoughts with me. To Lane, I’ve always been an admirer of your work. Keep it Leezy.
Thank you for reading,