Almine Rech Gallery is pleased to present Nude Group Therapy, an exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Hagen. This is the artist’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, and his second at our Brussels space.
Nude Group Therapy takes its title from an entry in The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, initiated in 1972 by the Union of International Associations, an NGO research institute based in Brussels, Belgium, which artfully, ambitiously and systematically attempts to catalog the woes of humanity as well as the means of alleviating them. Ever since 2016 Hagen has titled his paintings after entries from the volume devoted to “Human Potential, Transformation and Values” such as “Nude Group Therapy,” which reads in part as follows:
“Group nudity and its beneficial effects have been long accepted in traditions such as Nordic sauna... Such nudity is held to increase interpersonal transparency, remove inhibitions in the area of physical contact, decrease the sense of personal isolation and estrangement, and culminate in a feeling of freedom and belongingness. Nudity strips the individual of his ego pretensions and sometimes, of his ego defences.”
A possible step towards alleviating the toxic masculinity endemic in society, nude group therapy speaks to the potential for human beings to come together in a non-sexualized way, to accept and be accepted by others in turn, setting aside judgement and ego and clothes at the door. Hagen mines the encyclopedia for entries such as this that resonate with his work, in which he has consistently articulated an anti-hierarchical stance, borne out of his immersion in the worlds of punk rock and activism during his youth.