Low Gallery very happily hosts the official book release party for Drift and an art show for Maja Ruznic and Josh Hagler at the end of June. Don't miss this opportunity to meet these fascinating artists and welcome them to Southern California.
Josh and Maja have this to say of their most recent collaboration: On October 2, 2013, we gave up our apartment and studios in San Francisco to travel for over three months in Jordan and parts of Europe. We raised funds on Kickstarter and created our own kind of nomadic artist residency in which we made art daily, even sometimes while in transit, working with our European friends and contacts who generously helped us find space to live and work while abroad. We also clowned with Patch Adams and the Gesundheit! Institute providing relief and making art with Syrian refugees in camps throughout Jordan. The experience became central to our daily art practice. In all, we traveled through France, Jordan, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Serbia, and Bosnia, where Maja was born and later fled the war with her mother in the early 90’s.
The tech boom in San Francisco has created an untenable living situation for many artists, and partly for that reason, we never planned to return. That stark fact combined with the contrast between daily life for war refugees and the wealthy areas of Western Europe gave way to what turned into a very emotional period for us both. We focused on two questions: What is home? What does it mean?
Once we left Serbia, we ourselves had no home waiting. We stayed a week at a friend’s apartment in San Francisco, packed up our stuff from our storage unit, and made haste for Los Angeles in search of space and opportunity. After a week in a cheap motel, we found a live/work loft near LA’s Arts District.
As we made our daily paintings in Europe and began curating a selection for this book, a sense of narrative movement began to emerge. This book is our collaboration. Home is still in progress.
Maja Ruznic was born in Bosnia & Hercegovina in 1983 and came to the United States as a refugee in 1992. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Ruznic studied Psychology and Art at UC Berkeley and received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2009. Her paintings, drawings and performances explore memory and how it shapes our understanding of reality. Ruznic has exhibited in Germany, France, Texas, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her painting "The Mother of All Evil" was featured on the cover of New American Paintings in 2011 (Pacific Coast Section, Number 97). Ruznic’s work is included in the Jiminez-Colon Collection (Puerto Rico).
Working for over a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hagler has recently relocated to Los Angeles. Known mainly for his large-scale semi-figurative canvases, the work has followed a natural evolution in the artists’s personal exploration and anxiety around religious thought and its history. Since 2006, he has exhibited his paintings and multi-media installations throughout North America and Europe, including ten solo exhibitions. Hagler has also lead a double life as a graphic novelist, receiving the Xeric Grant to produce his series The Boy Who Made Silence in 2008, which was later published as a single volume in 2012. His animated video projection “The Evangelists” was based on interviews with four middle-aged men dealing with psychological trauma and included Hagler’s former neighbor who burned down their mutual San Francisco apartment building in 2007. The piece was later selected to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami and the Royal Institute in Adelaide, Australia. Last year, Hagler lectured at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, and mounted his solo show The Unsurrendered at the university gallery. 2014 includes two-person exhibitions with Maja Ruznic in San Francisco and San Diego and two solo shows in Houston and Copenhagen. In addition to last year’s travels through Jordan and Europe, Hagler has also spent time researching and making work at residencies in Norway and Italy.