Deep in the arts Mecca of Silver Lake, tucked away in a small (but tidy) studio space, Aaron Nagel works tirelessly on rendering the beauty of the female form in his latest collection of paintings. Canvases in various stages of completion adorn the room serving as inspiration of feminine allure and strength. Oils are smeared on a palette while displayed on a monitor is an image of a beautiful brunette - reference material for the small size portrait Nagel is currently painting. It’s all in preparation for Nagel’s second solo exhibit, “Fathoms”, unveiling May 9th with Lyons Wier Gallery. “Fathoms” reveals a lighter side from the artist. Gleaming bronzed bodies and austere backgrounds have been interchanged with backdrops of grayish-blue hues coupled with milky flesh tones. This noticeable divergence is a conscious evolution for Nagel as he advances his understanding of light and shadow. Another striking distinction is the balance of both meticulous brush strokes and loose energy. Nagel notes Sean Cheetham, Shawn Barber, and Jeremy Mann as fellow artists who he admires and it's hard not to argue the influence these artists have had on his approach.
Though Nagel’s self-taught talent is undeniably brilliant, the dichotomy between the artist and his work is equally as fascinating. He talks openly about his atheist beliefs, yet religious iconography and imagery is often displayed in his work. In previous paintings, rosary beads, crosses, halo crowns, and stigmata references are met with feminine power. With "Fathoms" Nagel strips away any notions of Catholicism and directs the focus on what he's really worshiping - the captivating (and sometimes mysterious) beauty of women.
"Fathoms" runs through June 7th at Lyons Wier Gallery in New York.