A whiff of the Chequered Parlour: Andrew Hagar

26 July - 11 August 2018

Born into the suburbia of Western Sydney in the 1950’s, Andrew Hagar never took the gift of artistic talent for granted. Hagar’s catalogue of work can be traced back to a genesis moment when at 6 years old, he was given the gift of pastels by his aging maternal grandmother which set him on course of an artist’s life. Since his first naïve sketch on butcher’s paper, he has adhered to the ideal in life and art of the impact of moments and always being present in them.

It was his initial adventure overseas to the U.S in the early 1970’s where Andrew Hagar had the first critical encounters of his life. It was in the harsh, cold, wet winters streets of New York without a dollar to his name that he was invited in by a group of boheme musicians and painters to discover what creativity without boundaries could offer. For the next decade Hagar immersed himself in the New York sub culture of the time, honing his talents in both his music and his painting, learning from and working alongside the now household names of these two artistic passions.

It wasn’t until 1978 that Andrew Hagar had his breakthrough, firstly, becoming a feature of the hallowed halls of New York’s bowery club CBGB and TriBeCa’s Mudd Club with his brand of musicianship. Secondly, through his expanding network – Hagar’s rudimental, yet visceral, expressive paintings became items of desirability, trading hands to an elite level of collector – commonly coming down from the upper park to discover the next raw talent knocking around downtown Manhattan neighbourhoods, it was at this time that the hounds of the New York neo-expressionist movement such as Jean-Michel Basquiat were forming their ideas.

 

Just as his star was on the rise, Andrew Hagar was forced to return prematurely to Australia. Following the highs found of at the epicentre of the new, brash cultural exchange, Hagar entered into a protracted period of reclusion and decline here in his homeland. He only emerged out of the haze a decade or so later and it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that he again picked up his neglected brushes and canvas. Since his slow return to painting Hagar has entered a small number of prizes locally with success with his landscapes. It wasn’t until he revealed an extended series of figures, similar to the works receiving acclaim some 30 years prior in NY that the foundations of his new body of work were forged.

When discussing his figures Andrew Hagar says, “There is no planned vision for the work before it happens, in my view if something is planned in my art something is wrong, painting is a physical act – like love making, it is for all the senses, instinctual in its purest form and each unique experience cannot be replicated. These works come from a place deep in the sub-psyche, however they are not just my own, these works are the portrayal of all our sub-conscious, our hopes, fears, they are a manifestation of what it is to be human.”