We are pleased to present Miro's Corner, our first solo show with Los Angeles-based artist Alec Egan, at MAKI Gallery / Tennoz I, Tokyo. Egan's striking use of color and form, as well as his distinctive brushwork, has brought his work critical and public acclaim across the United States. As the artist's first solo presentation in Asia, this exhibition will feature his interior and landscape paintings, both of which have become archetypal of his oeuvre. The alluring yet unnerving nature of his work invites the viewer to take a closer look while simultaneously inspiring introspection.
Egan employs thickly laid impasto in his depictions of fictitious still lifes and landscapes drawn from his own memory and imagination. His paintings of interior scenes are all derived from a single hypothetical house and feature typical domestic items such as furniture, books, and footwear. These symbolic motifs are repeated throughout multiple paintings, providing intermittent clues to the absent homeowner's life and infusing profundity into the mundane. Lavish, vibrant floral patterns reminiscent of Rococo or Victorian décor fill each room, almost overwhelming the central subjects, while windows and paintings-within-paintings reveal cheeky peeks into the outside world. In contrast, Egan's landscape paintings show vast, open spaces, a welcome release from the claustrophobic interior settings. Vibrant colors and bold shapes, as well as varying thicknesses of paint, are adopted to portray nature's crucial role in the construct of sentimental Americana. Crashing waves and somber sunsets relay the beautiful and idyllic sides of nature, while reminding us of its precarious and merciless qualities. Although untethered to any specific time or place, the landscapes are clearly inspired by the scenery and terrain of Los Angeles, the artist's hometown.
Another distinct characteristic of Egan's work is the consistent absence of human figures, which instills a melancholic and even uncanny ambience to each painting. The resulting stillness offers the viewer a moment of quiet contemplation on the lives of both the elusive occupant and themselves. The objects in each scene hint at a story, but do not define it, allowing the viewer to conjure a narrative that relates to their own personal experiences.
Miro's Corner centers around an interior painting of the same name—Egan's largest work to date. "Miro" refers to not only Joan Miro, but also Egan's newborn daughter Miro, whose birth during the pandemic brought great joy and overwhelming change to the artist's life. The second half of the title, "Corner", is imbued with literal and metaphorical meanings reflective of our combined pandemic experience. As the artist states, "The perspective and symbolism of staring into a corner serves literally to suggest how we may have all been cornered in our own spaces or minds during this time." The corner can also be a place of study and rumination, where one can expand their mind whether by reading a book or gazing out a window. Such symbolism is quintessential of Egan's world, where there are no meaningless objects—each detail is informed by bits and pieces excavated from both collective cultural memory and his own past. The artist remarks, "This time of forced introspection has revealed the multiple patterns and dark (or overlooked) corners of the self at somewhat of a confining hallucinogenic cost, all the while allowing very brilliant silver linings and a deeper look at life."
Rich with art-historical references ranging from Van Gogh to Hokusai, Egan's nostalgic dreamscapes are simultaneously faithful and inventive engagements with painterly tradition. His work invites the viewer to a game of push and pull, where a myriad of opposing forces—internal and external, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, real and surreal, fabricated and natural—come together to form an intricate matrix of context and meaning. We hope you will take this opportunity to converse with Egan's hypnotic paintings in person.
Press Release: Courtesy of MAKI