On leaving Glasgow school of Art, Joe Hargan was known for his lively abstracts, expert draftsmanship and imaginative figurative work. In 2000 at the Royal Academy, London, he succeeded in having all 3 paintings accepted (and even sold). The smallest of these provoked a flurry of “fan mail” with requests for more pictures in this vein. Thus, ‘Sniffy’, as he came to be known, evolved and soon became a series.
Perhaps it’s because they are colourful and attractive in their portrayal of fine homes or art galleries. They depict the sort of rooms most people would love to own. Some say it’s the good value of the winning formula, where you may feel there’s a ‘2 for the price of one’ bargain in having a still life along with a deftly portrayed likeness of an old master, classic or favourite painting. Look closely and you will see how cleverly loose and modern is the handling. Yet step back and you could be looking at the original, as the eye fills in between the brushstrokes and sharpens the image in true impressionist style. If not, the picture may be larger or played with to achieve humour in the composition. Add to this the ‘goings on’ shenanigans with the animals portrayed and the placing of recurring symbols like books, wine glasses (The finer things in Life) or the ubiquitous burger (Modern lifestyle). Moreover, when you also enjoy the irony in the punning titles, you may be right to think they are popular due to their humour and wit.
They combine the old Masters which influenced the artist with the new styles in modern art to produce ‘tongue in cheek’ surreal situations for you to enjoy.
I. M. Clarke MA (Glas) (ART CRITIC)