Jan 17, 200602:16 PMThe Life
Now it can be told: the Shag interview
Jan 17, 2006 - 02:16 PMI caught up with Josh Agle (a/k/a Shag) at m modern last Saturday night. He was in town for only a short time, between his fourth gallery show in Tokyo and an upcoming one in Australia. His book signing event was about to start, and the circumstances seemed very hectic to me: many people chattered excitedly while looking at his paintings, and a camera crew rushed everywhere, setting up their equipment to film him for a documentary to be aired on the Bravo channel. But Shag was very cool, casually lounging around, and he graciously consented to spend a few minutes answering my questions:
You like to emphasize humor in your images. Do you often go for the joke?
It's not always a joke, but there's usually some kind of twist, often macabre. There's a sense of irony in almost every piece I paint, and some of them have gags as well. It's a way to approach people with the artwork and not be too... daunting, as it were.
How did you settle on this particular style?
As far as the furniture and the lifestyle of the people, it's just the stuff I was surrounded with myself, when I began to paint. I had a lot of mid-century furniture. An artist paints what he knows, so that's sort of what I started painting.
Had you ever worked in other styles?
Yeah, I worked as a commercial illustrator for about ten years, so I worked in whatever style the client wanted. But if I were left up to my own devices, this is the style I'd choose to work in.
Have you seen the poster for the local film festival? It reminds me of some of your work.
Yeah, we went back and forth about that, with the film festival. The original version looked exactly like one of my pieces, so they changed it a bit.
Really?! How did you find out about it?
Some of my friends here in Palm Springs brought it to my attention.
Do you think the artist was copying your work specifically, or just your style?
I think he was copying my work, because the original version was an exact copy of a character from one of my paintings. The festival changed it after my agent approached them.
Omigosh. Is it okay to use this stuff in the published interview?
Sure. I mean, we ended up on good terms. They changed the image, and I didn't want to... y'know, I want to be supportive of Palm Springs, and I know the film festival is a great thing for the city. So I didn't want to take them to court, or anything like that. It was just a friendly conversation: "I don't know if you're aware of this, but the artist who did the poster seems to have appropriated my artwork." They seemed a little embarrassed, and they changed it.
Do you prefer being called Shag, or Josh?
Either one. It seems like nowadays most people call me Shag.
You live in L.A. - how often do you come out here?
Several times a year.
So you spend a fair amount of time in Palm Springs. What draws you to this area?
I like the lifestyle, and I have a lot of friends here. I mean, it totally fits into the "Shag" lifestyle: leisure, hedonism, things like that.
m modern seems to be very supportive of your work.
Yeah. Actually, I met Jay and MiShelle before they opened the gallery, through the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation. They had mentioned that if I ever wanted to show in Palm Springs, they would open a gallery. And I said, "I *do* want to show in Palm Springs!" So they opened a gallery.
You mean you're the reason this gallery is here?!
Oh, I don't know if I'm the reason. I know they had been thinking about it for a long time. But maybe this was the spark that actually got them to do it.