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Eighteen_Wes Lang_This Simple Path
Eighteen is pleased to present
This Simple Path
A painting by Wes Lang
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY AUGUST 19. 2022. TIME: 16:00 – 21:00
EXHIBITION PERIOD: AUGUST 20 – SEPTEMBER 17. 2022
This Simple Path is a large-scale diptych painting, measuring 213 x 609 cm, created with acrylic, oil stick, colored pencil, and paper collage on canvas by Wes Lang in 2015. The vivid composition juxtaposes figurative elements such as birds, flowers, tipis, dream catchers, cloud, lightning, mountain, arrow and sun symbols, and Native American chiefs, with dynamic abstract scrawls and markings, and text statements in Lang’s iconic style. Statements such as: “Be Still – Do Nothing”, “Harmony In All Things”, “(Return To Self)”, “From Here To The Great Unknown”, “(Giving)” refer to various teachings from the Tao Te Ching, the lectures of Ram Dass, and the book The Eagle’s Gift by the Peruvian born anthropologist Carlos Castaneda amongst others.
The painting feels like a positive free flowing meditation on being and transcendence, where thoughts and emotions appear and disappear. The work is an experience of being in the now, transforming with each encounter as new associations arise from the decentered composition.
This Simple Path, 2015, is part of an important private Danish collection and has never been displayed publicly before, as it went directly from the artist’s studio to the collector’s home. We cherish this opportunity to present the painting to the public for the first time.
Wes Lang, born 1972 in Chatham, New Jersey, USA, Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA. Recent solo exhibitions includes Pink and Blue, 2022, Almine Rech, New York, USA, Healing of a Nation, 2021, One Trick Pony, Los Angeles, USA, Wes Lang, 2020, Almine Rech, Paris, France and Taking Off For Other Dimensions, 2019, Eighteen, Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2021 Rizzoli published Wes Lang – Everything an extensive monograph chronicling the many aspects of Lang’s practice.
Over the last several decades, Wes Lang has been honing his craft and mining the iconography of a post-pop Americana. Lang is an individualist whose heroes—fallen country music icons, jazz musicians, Native American Chiefs—are renegades that have carved their own paths despite adversity. In the Wes Lang universe, recurring figures and symbols— horses, reapers, skulls, birds, the indigenous American, and other totems of the American West— serve as emblems in one way or another for freedom. His frenetic and sometimes manic paintings nod to carefully studied painters such as Twombly, Guston, Basquiat, and Kline. The American West weighs heavy in Lang’s mind, a symbol of the American Dream where ‘going west’ represents the chance to reinvent oneself. Notions of reinvention and awakening resonate deeply with Lang, as frequent references to the Tao Te Ching and the lectures of Ram Dass are scattered throughout the work, revealing a central ethos that underlies the artist’s complex iconography: the affirming power of belief in oneself. The repetition of images and phrases become ritualistic and operate like reaffirming mantras, reminders to “remain at your center” and “be here now.” While Lang’s iconography of skulls and other memento mori might, at first glance, seem to inspire hopelessness, deeper engagement with the work makes it clear that the larger purpose is to inspire people. To help them understand what they can achieve from life in the short duration they are here, provoking them to take a chance on themselves.
To date, Lang has made his mark primarily on canvas and paper— though his practice extends to include cast bronze sculpture, collage, hotel stationary, fabric, glass, and precious metals. In 2014, Lang made his institutional debut with “The Studio” at ARoS Aarhus Museum of Art. His pieces are included in many notable international public collections including MOMA, New York, USA; ARoS, Aarhus, Denmark; The National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), Copenhagen, Denmark, and Murderme, London, United Kingdom.
Thank you to Fritz Hansen.