Partners and recent collaborators, former Bay Area artists Maja Ruznic and Joshua Hagler exhibit paintings together for the first time in their two-person exhibition entitled Among The Missing. Both of them painters with an affinity for abstracted figuration, the pair spent three months in 2013 traveling through Eastern and Western Europe and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. During this time they documented their experiences through a daily ritual of painting and working on Drift, their collaborative art book due in June. The exhibition Among the Missing is titled after one of the book’s chapters and includes both a selection of this work as well as new paintings motivated by their recent experiences and ongoing dialogue.
For his newest paintings, Joshua Hagler appropriates stills from the 1995 black-and-white western film Dead Man. Hagler’s references to the film serve as departure points into more abstract visual fields and meditations on the spiritual condition of the “colonist.” In this new work Hagler willfully embodies an American stereotype voluntarily taking on a posture of guilt and confusion as a product of colonialism and western expansion.
The most obvious shift in Hagler’s work from previous exhibitions is the move into greater abstraction, obscuring subject matter, at times, to the point of non-representation so that something unexpected might be brought to the fore.
Maja Ruznic’s new, larger paintings possess the same psychological intimacy and phantasmagoric quality as her earlier works, only this time, Ruznic has embedded her figures into predominantly dark backgrounds and allowed them to appear stain-like, emerging from the darkness. Ruznic draws from her experience of making art with Syrian refugees with her partner and collaborator Joshua Hagler, as well as from her own experiences growing up as a child refugee.
Her paintings evoke feelings of discomfort, displacement, and abandonment. The works on paper are sketch-like and complete at once, and evoke the feeling of having woken from dream, recalling a few, small details while the rest recedes into obscurity.
Work from “Drift” will also be on view during the exhibition and the 136-page hardbound limited edition, out in June, will be available for pre-order at Jack Fischer.
“Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and such beauty…Everything I do was inspired by my early life.”-Louise Bourgeois