Juxtapoz Magazine – Matthew Hansel Paints How “My Inner Demon Never Sleeps Alone”

There is a fine line between debauchery and pleasure. There was a moment in the 1960s and 70s of a sort of unhinged utopian dream, a place where Matthew Hansel is painting from where a sense of freedom of expression and sexuality became slightly, well, unattended and unhinged to use the word again. For his new show at The Hole in LA, the main gallery features a bestiary of demons, pixies and nude men and women in all kinds of entanglements, poses and rituals. The human figures are painted from clippings from 1960s and ’70s brochures for West Coast nudist colonies, while their demons, with scaled bodies, attenuated snouts and poulaine-toed feet, recall the morality paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Hansel’s allegorical twist: instead of admonishing the viewer, he aims to enchant them, conjuring a universe in which, he says, “people are able to live beside and enjoy their demons in a way that they can’t in the real world.”

“It’s in our unattended moments that we allow ourselves the freedom to contemplate the object,” Hansel says. “We allow ourselves to flirt with our demons; to be seduced by them. Pursuant to this point, the critic Pear Salabert wrote, ‘The redemption of the flesh through the raw materiality present in art can lead the spectator to a state in which his physical or moral integrity is altered. The object is the process, always in transit, which dominates the obscene instance of the object. That’s why the subject is drawn to it, instead of rejected, in a sort of ‘seductive disgust.'”

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