Night of the Tiki

 

 

 

Of the five sold-out exhibitions in 2001, Night of the Tiki, held in July at Copro Nason Gallery in Los Angeles, was arguably his most popular of the year. This was Shag’s 10th solo exhibit and sixth in LA, and brought the most cohesive collection to date, with a unique tied-in series of 15 original paintings, displayed in Shag’s vivid spectrum of color.

Opening night was jam-packed with art collectors, Shag fans and tiki-enthusiasts. Nearly all of Shag’s original works had sold to collectors and fans prior to the opening. A typical painting at the time sold for under $3000. Most of the paintings were 14×20 inches, each selling for around $2900. Today the same size work would sell for around $8000. The only original from this series to reappear on the resell market was Kava Kava Man, which had an asking price of $16,000.

  

 

Night of the Tiki was quite different than previous exhibits, as each work was actually both an extension of, as well as part of the previous work in the series. For example, Signs Point to Yes was actually a continuation of the previous work, Princess Pineapple. The next painting, The Little Inferno, was a continuation of Signs Point to Yes. Each work in the series had a distinct base of color from the spectrum. 

The exhibit also featured a separate painting, Sepik Explorer, which featured gallery owner Douglas Nason at the wheel of a Jungle Cruise-like boat, adventuring down the Sepik River, the longest river on the Polynesian island of New Guinea. Only in a Shag painting, though, would one find a cocktail lounge, on the bank of the Sepik River, with a bartender greeting explorers with a fresh cocktail.

Interestingly, even though tiki influence historically has been a major component in Shag’s works, there have only been two exhibits that have exclusively featured a tiki theme, Night of the Tiki, and Call of Kapu from 2004. Shag self-admittedly feels he’s taken the tiki theme as far has can. However, you can still find tiki influence in several of his works today. Some are obvious, like in The Little Fish from 2008 and Caliban from 2007. And some are bit more subtle, like the mask in 2006’s The Thinking Has Been Done.

Detailed images of each painting from Night of the Tiki can be found in the book of the same name (by Douglas Nason), and published by Last Gasp.

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