The Journal Gallery in NYC continues their exciting “side” program with week long shows presented at their uniquely alternative project space, Tennis Elbow. Last weekend, in conjunction with International Surfing Day, they opened a solo show presenting 12 new paintings by Michael Kagan, individually and as a group titled Mavericks.
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Focused on surfing as a sport and an action where mankind is pushed to the limits, these paintings were inspired by the actual photographs of the Mavericks surf break in Northern California, just south of San Francisco. Known for waves whose break can be recorded on seismometers, this notorious spot has a legendary status in the surf community. With this show, Michael Kagan, an artist who grew up in Virginia Beach with surfing as his favourite past time, paid his respect to the people taming this powerful wave… and to the freedom of surfing.
Based on a photo from one of his childhood surfing books, these oil works also pay respect to Kagan’s favourite painters. By developing a peculiar technique of manipulating paint over the base image, seen previously on his rockets or mountain pieces, Kagan manages to capture or depict a raw energy and thrill of riding such massive wave. Sometimes depicting the ocean spray with a subtle smear of oils, or fully covering the image with a thick layer of paint, the 12 works are showing different states or scenarios on such a wave. Going hand-in-hand with portraying extremes, such as space explorers or highest mountain peaks, Mavericks is a logical continuation of artist’s development and experimentation with his favourite technique and painting process. —Sasha Bogojev