“It began with an attraction to the desert landscape originally,” writes LA-based painter Logan Maxwell Hagege (born 1980). “I had studied portraits and figures and wanted to start putting them in my landscapes. That was a love of mine, drawing and painting people. I wanted to incorporate them into my paintings of the West. Native Americans and cowboys are such a strong part of the West, so they started showing up in my paintings.” The “West” meaning Arizona, New Mexico, and adjacent portions of California, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
The paintings of Hagege (pronounced Ah-jejj) exhibit all the hallmarks of his classical art training from an academy in Southern California, a modern-day atelier, in which students refined their skills by drawing and painting live models every day for years. Yet, it is in the artist’s departures from strict realism where his work now draws its strength and where his vision is fed by a heady mix of nature and imagination. In a style that he terms “stylised realised”, Hagege tells a modern story of the hauntingly beautiful desert land in the American Southwest, one that is steeped in history.
Red cliffs, towering clouds, cerulean sky, dark pink flowers, gorgeous horses, blanketed members of old tribes, the richness and density of tradition and community life—what is seen in Hagege’s paintings are the elements of a region and its inhabitants that may go all but unnoticed by the casual observer and may not find space in mainstream media. “It’s my vision of the world; that’s where it starts and that’s where it ends,” the artist says.
A critically and commercially successful painter, Hagage is also an accomplished musician and former competitive surfer. He travels extensively to cultivate inspiration and to deepen his relationship with his subjects and with the culture of the land he portrays. He produces field studies on location near a home in remote northern Arizona. Those works inform the pieces he later creates in his studio in Ojai, California.
Hagege’s works are part of the permanent collections of institutions such as the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California; the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia; the Cal Poly Pomona University Collection in Pomona, California; the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg, Florida; the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the Scottsdale Museum of the West in Arizona, among others.