Josh Agle (aka Shag)

Gallery I
Solo Exhibition

December 11, 2010 through January 8, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (November 11, 2010) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Ambergris, new works by Southern California-based artist Josh Agle (aka Shag) in what will be his third solo exhibition at the gallery. This show will feature over a dozen original acrylic paintings on panel as well as three large-scale giclee editions on canvas and the release of three small giclee editions on paper. Agle renders his stylized subjects and their luxurious surroundings with details reminiscent of mid-century modern design—painting each figure and form with clean shapes and crisp, fluid line work in vividly saturated colors and sharply defined textural patterns.

The artist’s narrative tends to shift with each new body of work. Recently, Agle resumed surfing for the first time since his early twenties, at which time, he began to have recurring dreams about whales trying to kill him. The nightmares prompted the artist to read Herman Melville classic novels Moby Dick and Billy Budd, which further sparked his interest in whales, whaling, sea farers and nautical themes. Each painting in this series contains a whale or large fish, adorned with hot-rod style pinstripes, to complement the artist’s signature aesthetic. Elements of mid-century modern furnishings and fashions coexist with incongruous imagery inspired by 19th Century sailing and whaling, in an attempt to visually merge the worlds of Shag and Melville. Additionally, works in this exhibition feature a darker, more subdued palette as compared to the complimentary range of colors in previous shows.

The title Ambergris, refers to a wax-like substance secreted within the intestines of the sperm whale, mainly acting as a coating in the digestive tract when the creature is unable to process parts of an animal it has eaten, such as the beak of a giant squid. This material can be found floating in tropical seas, and is often harvested from the whale’s stomach, when caught as game. Ambergris is a foul-smelling, vile matter in its raw state yet over time organically develops a unique fragrance and texture, properties which it is prized for by companies that manufacture fragrance, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Agle found this natural phenomenon an appropriate metaphor to convey the concept behind his new body of work, embracing the idea that a repulsive material coming from an unpleasant source might somehow magically transform into a highly valued and coveted luxury commodity.


Josh Agle, also known as Shag (a contraction of the last two letters of his first name and the first two letters of his last) was born in 1962. He is a painter, illustrator and designer, currently based in Los Angeles. Agle has had numerous gallery exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. His work has been featured in museums such as the Laguna Art Museum in California, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pennsylvania and the Naples Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy. Agle’s exhibitions have been reviewed by The New York Times’ critics Ken Johnson and Roberta Smith. His artwork has been published in several books, been the subject of a documentary film, as well as a musical.

Josh Agle (Shag)

Jonathan LeVine Gallery | 529 West 20th Street and 557C West 23rd Street | New York, NY 10011 | Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm | 212-243-3822