Michael Kagan "Thunder in the Distance" @ Joshua Liner Gallery, NYCJuxtapoz // Thursday, 03 Apr 2014
Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Thunder in the Distance, an exhibition of new work from New York-based artist Michael Kagan. This will be the artist’s first US-solo show, featuring large-scale works, as well as several smaller paintings of the same medium, oil on canvas. The artist will be in attendance for the opening reception on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
In the article “Punching a Hole in the Sky,” Shannon White writes of Chuck Yeager— the first person to officially break the sound barrier:
At .965 Mach, the meter fluctuated and went off the scale. The ground control operators simultaneously reported they heard what they thought was thunder in the distance. In fact, they had heard the first sonic boom ever produced on earth.
Kagan chose Thunder in the Distance as the title for this exhibition as it represents humankind’s ability to achieve something outside of their physical means. This mastery of flight, evidenced in the ability to break the sound barrier in a controlled environment, was the impetus to accomplish imaginative goals through technological methods at an exponential rate.
Kagan paints man-made objects and machinery: a rocket, a racecar, a spacesuit, the cockpit of a space shuttle. The artist appreciates that these very same objects— developed through scientific achievement over many years—could instantly kill the operator. The artist never goes back over what he has painted; the brushstrokes mimic, in some ways, the immediate consequence of the imagery.
Employing an impasto technique, the artist’s thick, deliberate, almost aggressive brush strokes, up close seem to fall apart. Stepping back to see the canvas as a whole, the image comes together. Depending on the perspective, Kagan’s paintings slide on a scale from abstract to figurative.
The Smithsonian recently commissioned three large canvases from Michael Kagan, giving the artist access to their vast air and space-related archives. Kagan has also embarked upon collaborative projects with musician Pharrell Williams on his clothing brand as well as lending his imagery for album cover artwork to the band White Lies for their album Big TV—eventually garnering the distinction as Best Art Vinyl 2013. Despite the many projects that have come his way, Kagan’s main focus is his studio practice, creating a body of work inspired by iconic, man made machinery.