Black Drops

Black Drops is Shag’s contribution to the 2010 100 Artists See Satan fund-raising exhibit at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California.
The work follows what seems to be a new format for his larger landscape paintings – a simple silhouette of rolling hills in the background, a continuous path from left to right, lifeless trees peppering the grayish landscape, and suggestive meaning through the people he paints paired with the symbolic animals that are so often painted throughout.
The theme of the exhibit (artists seeing Satan) freely gives Shag the chance to paint how he sees the figure of evil. In many of Shag’s past works, Satan was quite obvious. In fact, the paintings featuring the horned underworld leader often were the focal point of the work and often included him in the title, in works like “The Devil’s Good, You Silly Bean“. He was also the theme in his previous contribution to a past 100 Artists See Satan exhibit from 2004 with his BBQ three-color etching contribution. However, the current painting, Black Drops, challenges to look a bit deeper. The two boys with their pointed serpent tails are the only blatant tell tale signs of devils from the underworld. However, Satan himself is quite obvious in the painting, appearing as a bright green serpent emerging from a hollow dead tree, offering up the core of a forbidden apple in the gentle black hand grip of his tongue.
The mystery of the work, though, is in the subject matter (and title), “Black Drops”. Many of Shag’s newer works include mysterious black liquid drops, many dripping from the limbs of leafless trees. Is it oil or tar, polluting the pond below and contributing to the color of a now black fish? Current event references are rare and hidden well in Shag paintings. Is it lifeless blood or symbolic black tree sap? Or, is it something completely less interesting, a creative use of color and balance to give the work a more completed look, as he self admittedly has used his familiar cats for. Symbolic or not, what is interesting, is the suspended mirror floating in front of the lounging man, who now is unavoidably “seeing himself.”

4 Responses to “Black Drops”

  1. Scott Says:

    Again, another dark themed painting from Shag for 2010. his new work is Shag, but not Shag…it’s like from the movie Superman 3 when superman turns bad. The whole time you want him to turn back. Hopefully Shag turns back to his old self in 2011.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Amen, he has gone downhill lately. Nothing he has done has had any interest to me, Bring back the old SHAG..

  3. Eric W. Kratzer Says:

    I would have to disagree with you boys – the new Shag, while dark and slightly disturbing is also new and experimental – I think that it’s wonderful that he’s trying something new! It feels nostalgic to me of Salvador Dali and Picasso’s Blue Period. I wouldn’t be surprised if history judged these pieces as the ones that really put Shag on the map. Check out MOMA in 30 years to find out! Eric

  4. Mark Says:

    I will have to agree with all three of you.
    I want the old SHAG, new SHAG interests me,
    as he is revealing more of his soul in these works,
    but I have no interest in buying any in the new style,
    yet I know every artist eventually gets bored with whatever
    they are doing of feels they have taken it as far as they can.

    Having said that, the new work does need to find a buying audience.
    I notice on this very blog that the “available paintings” is
    filled with paintings in this new style and latest shows appear
    to not be sold out of the SHAG paintings and digital prints created
    for them.

    It is not so surprising then that some Tiki elements have crept back
    in to his work. It may be that he is not as tired of it now that he has
    had a change to explore other avenues, but it is also possible he is
    seeing that the BUYERS are wanting “Classic SHAG” style works.

    MOMA may like SHAG in 30 years, but in the meantime he probably
    still wants to sell art. I’d be curious to see what happens if/when he
    releases a limited edition serigraph of the new style at ShagMart.

    Still, never underestimate the most collected living artist.
    He is as smart and savvy as they get.

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