This reproduction subtracts, distorts the dynamics of Hagan’s brush marks, they are like solid coat of paint, whereas the surface in real viewing is a gossamer of vapours. Even where it is divided by breaking line, the hue flirts with air and light to lose optical weight. Have I seen it before? Yes – Tintoretto at the Scuola di San Rocco, Goya -he when painting the murals at St Antonio della Florida with a sponge. The clouds and the sea swapped places as it may happen in some act of the Earth. Their force is to tell of the force of nature so neglected by the greed. The final version arrived late, here it is:
Hagan dissolves volumes and outlines to the point of disappearance of the definition of shape. His surface breathes almost audibly, spelling out chilling aftermath of an event we are not allowed to understand.
Iridescent and two tone pigments tell in some detail of the heat that swallows the outlines, saving just slabs of darkness in the composition that is both diagonal and classical. Claude Lorrain Pastoral Landscape may have inspired Hagan’s building blocks.
The silence of the interior still partners the large blocks of light and dark, tamed by right angles, straight lines, set of parallels as if echoing the chair in front. Also as a force responding to the fragmentation of the left and top part of the image. I would have expected unconsolable break in the composition. Yet, it is holding together both the description of the observed and the unfathomable apparitions. His painting’s power becomes more obvious, when Hagan tames his imagination to tell a story.
Still, the chilling ambiguity screams more than one meaning – intelligibly. The paradox of classical calm and baroque riot breaks the painting into two – taxing the light to unite them. Them? Two different feelings: one anchored in contemplative memory and the other in something barbaric, an actual scene. Which circle of hell is this?
Also: Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego ( the variant at Louvre) has something to say here.
Images accessed on www. karlhagan.com. The final version of Clampdown (see above) arrived directly from the painter after I published the essay.