Shag's 'Animal Kingdom': Where Furries, Anime and 1970s Halloween Costumes Collide
"When [Mad Men] first started, all of my friends, everyone who knows me, said, 'You've got to watch it. You'll love the costumes and the sets,'" says Josh Agle, the artist best known as Shag.
Courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery The Cat Carrier by Shag/Josh Agle
Agle, though, wasn't necessarily interested in checking out the mid-20th-century costumes and interiors that mark AMC's hit series. And when he finally walked in on his wife watching Mad Men, it was the stories and characters that sucked him into the show.
"I hope that's the same thing with my paintings," he says by phone. "They might be set in the '50s or '60s or '70s, but the real content is in the characters and stories they're telling as opposed to the window dressing, the way they are dressed and the furniture that they're sitting on."
Since the 1990s, Shag's depictions of life in a retro world filled with lavish parties and cool people have attracted more than just fans of Cold War-era aesthetics. And while his distinctive style may draw viewers, it's his knack for creating intricate narratives within his paintings that keep people gazing.
Courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery Oscar Hirsh, Esq., by Shag/Josh Agle
"A lot of times, people ask me what's going on in this painting and I never tell them," says Agle. "Sometimes the stories that people are thinking are better than the ones I had when I was painting them."
For his latest show, "Animal Kingdom," Agle's created a whole new slew of characters and scenarios guaranteed to have onlookers guessing about the story behind the painting. Each piece in the show, which opens at Corey Helford on Saturday, features at least one character dressed as an animal. The animal costumes, Agle says, represent human traits. There are feline women and equine men. There's a boy dressed as a lamb acting as though he's an adult and men sporting antlers hanging around a woman lounging in a living room.