#136: Joshua Hagler - "Chimera"


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Joshua Hagler lived and worked in San Francisco and then Los Angeles for fifteen years before moving to rural New Mexico in late 2017 as a grant recipient of the year-long Roswell Artist in Residence Program. He was born at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho in 1979 and is a first-generation college graduate with a visual communications degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Having not attended an art school or received an MFA, Hagler refers to himself as a working class artist. Not a stranger to class bias in the art world, self-directed research and travel has underpinned Hagler’s career and is essential to how the artist integrates creative influences with his life experience. ​

While most of Hagler’s early work responded directly to a difficult past within a variety of religious groups and their unspoken implications for the artist and his family, the later work has sought to understand religion in a deeper way. To Hagler’s mind, one finds the seeds of religion in every facet of culture, even, and, perhaps especially, among the so-called secular realms. Religion, for Hagler, is not approached in the pejorative but in a state of acceptance that perhaps it’s through the religious structures inherent in our shared languages and cultures that we access what makes us most human, for better and for worse.

Currently, he is hard at work in the studio preparing for his first U.K. solo exhibition with Unit London. In “Chimera,” Hagler presents a body of new paintings that attempt to dig beneath various forms of loud political language, including censorship, for clues on how the ubiquity of groupthink informs populist world views on both ends of the spectrum. The artist, in practice, hopes to work into the “noise” to exhume something Other in the physical manner in which the work is made. ​ ​

2018 saw two museum shows at the Brand Library and Art Center in Los Angeles and the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico entitled “The River Lethe” and “Love Letters to the Poorly Regarded” respectively. He has exhibited paintings, sculpture, video, and animation in galleries and museums in North and South America, Europe, and Australia, including a long list of solo exhibitions. ​ Reviews and features about the work have appeared in a variety of publications and media outlets in the U.S. and Europe.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Hagler's move to Roswell, NM
  • Finding more financial freedoms to make art without worry
  • His former Christian upbringing and his current art practice
  • Hagler's recent show “Chimera” @ Unit London, and its relation to process and collaboration
  • On being a heavy reader, and the impact specific authors have had on him
  • A discussion on the spiritual experience that exists in the studio, and surpassing the basics of technical expertise into an emotional connection
  • The discipline of taking on multiple shows, and how it left Hagler with little time to premeditate his art to create better works
  • His recent two-person show in LA that expresses the feeling of loss based on a six-line W.S. Merwin poem
  • How artists can become inundated by the commercial, and political art market


156 episodes