Four Hands: The Drawings of Shag

In May 2007, Shag decided to do something quite different than previous exhibits. In an effort to return to some of his earliest attempts at creating distinctive artwork, Shag created a series of 24 untitled original drawings of India ink and acrylic paint on paper for an exhibit in Madrid, Spain.

The exhibit, Four Hands: The Drawings of Shag, was Josh Agle’s opportunity to revisit his earlier attempts at this style of work. The series of drawings were simple depictions of some of Shag’s favorite imagery, like women and alcohol. As Shag describes his works, they “would be drawn using black India ink and one flatly-rendered color on paper. To give the drawings a pristine look, much preplanning and sketching would be involved. The area of color was laid down first, and the ink lines were added after the color had dried. The white of the paper would also play a part in the composition.”

Some of the strongest examples, and some of the most unique, were a series of four different individual works illustrating cool birds loaded with both vibrant color and character. A very limited edition serigraph of just 99 was done of the series of birds. Other works were more of the classic Shag figures, like the devil, smoking in his lounge chair, adorned with his “lucky 13” pendant; A pink elephant serving up an oversized bottle of Gin; A whimsy cocktail connoisseur toasting six-times over.

Beyond the uniqueness of the medium (in his career, Shag has only created about 40 originals on paper), the series was one of the first exhibits that allowed a more “affordable” Shag original. Most of the originals ranged from $1200 to $1800, depending on the composition.

Four Hands wasn’t Shag’s first attempt at drawings. In fact, in 1995 at Shag’s very first art show in a small Santa Monica coffee house, he created two small drawings, which took just as long to create as the five larger paintings he displayed. However, the drawings ended up being overpowered by the larger, more colorful paintings. It was early on that Shag initially abandoned the idea of drawing, and spent the next decade concentrating on brushwork and bright color.

Over a period of ten years, Shag exhibited across the globe, including in Australia and Japan. And while Four Hands was Shag’s first exhibit in Spain, it was his third in Europe. In 2004, Shag held both Call of Kapu in London and Holidays on Ice in Paris.

Shag more recently did another small series of India ink and acrylic originals, which he released in 2008 at the Shag: A to Z book signing event in Seattle.

Pelayo 47, the gallery in Madrid that hosted Four Hands, enjoyed the works so much, that in 2008 they published their first gallery book Four Hands, The Drawings of Shag, cataloging each work along with detailed close-ups of the unique drawings.

In their own words “The exquisite and precise technique of his drawings, accompanied by the apparent simplicity of his brush strokes and intuitive use of color, come together to create a window, cast open to the interpretation of the spectator.”

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