Critics’ Picks

Lane Hagood, Eyeball Rug, 2012, oil on canvas, 64 x 40".

Lane Hagood, Eyeball Rug, 2012, oil on canvas, 64 x 40".

Austin

Lane Hagood

Domy Books
913 East Cesar Chavez
June 2–July 12, 2012

The spirit of the early-twentieth-century painter James Ensor presides over Lane Hagood’s concise exhibition of three paintings in “Eyeball Rug, Hand Painting, and Mountains Painting.” One canvas features a variety of bizarre eyeballs decoratively arranged on a rug, while, in another work, rough brushstrokes form the crevices of a dry cracked hand. In the third, a naively painted mountainscape is rendered in washy shades of blues and whites. In an accompanying text, Hagood frames how his paintings should be considered by playfully inhabiting the voice of Ensor. (“Now I must tell you about this Hagood character I ran into recently. He has it.”) Here Hagood encourages the viewer to read the exhibition itself as a tribute to his artistic gurus—not just Ensor but also Philip Guston, Arthur Rimbaud, and Mark Flood—whose examples of sensitivity and strangeness have informed his own creative development.

In the show one is reminded of the character Holden Caulfield remarking on the feeling one has after reading a great book: “ . . . you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” Whereas a postmodernist might have torqued the luminaries to create ironic distance, Hagood embraces the styles and attitudes of these artists as if they were his very best friends. His take on their work is sincere and transparent, which is what makes it all the more powerful.