The Flesh is Willing


With more than a decade’s history of 40 sold-out solo exhibitions across the globe, including shows in Japan, Australia, Paris and Madrid, SHAG has now reached a broader audience of art enthusiasts with his first-ever major museum exhibition, The Flesh is Willing. The museum exhibition featured two of the artist’s pictorial interests, purgatory and nudes, in an investigation of 50s cocktail culture and the notion of sin.

The Laguna Art Museum in Southern California hosted the collection of 11 original paintings by Josh Agle, along with a unique interactive display of vintage arcade games adorned in true Shag design. Patrons could spin the wheel of fate, stealing a peak at their futures of “Fortune”, “Eternal Bliss”, or possibly “Impotence.” For those that dared to reveal their vices, they could try the Vice Tester, exposing the vices of Sex, Gambling or maybe even Television. Cleverly displayed on the side of the Vice Tester is an interesting quote by Abraham Lincoln, which reads “It has been my experience that those who have no vices have very few virtues.”

The exhibition was inspired by a recent trip to the Prado in Madrid, where SHAG viewed the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel in person for the first time. Bosch’s work The Garden of Earthly Delights, center panel of his famous triptych depicting Paradise, Earth and Hell, was of particular interest to the artist. SHAG was struck by Bosch’s grand depiction of the earthly delights and began to analyze the effect of this iconography on modern culture.


In addition to the 11 original paintings, Agle created a dramatic centerpiece, a large triptych with the artist’s interpretation of Paradise, Earth and Hell as seen through consumerism and consumption à la America in the 1950s. SHAG also addresses the implementation of punishment and fear, used as a deterrent against indulgences, with three interactive pieces created from vintage arcade games where users can play and determine in advance what their fate will be.

Three of the originals for The Flesh is Willing are painted in traditional SHAG form, acrylic and vinyl paint on board. However, the show also featured eight large nude paintings on canvas, each in its own vibrant color, ranging from red to green to lavender.

A limited edition set of six serigraphs was created exclusively for the exhibit, with each print featuring an individual nude that had been incorporated into the large triptych.

With the success of the exhibit, and the continued success of Agle’s most recent sold-out show in Australia, one can only hope for a bigger and better museum exhibit in the near future. Maybe a 20-year retrospective of originals at Orange’s prestigious Bower’s Museum?


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