Karl Hagan


Oil on canvas

25cm x 30cm

Courtesy of the artist


Karl Hagan is a painter based in Queen Street Studios Belfast. He graduated from Ulster University, Belfast in 2018 with a First-Class Honours in Fine Art Painting. Since graduating he was Artist in Residence at Belfast School of Art for painting. Hagan has exhibited his work in the Royal Ulster Academy, Platform Arts Belfast, Queen Street Studios Gallery and the Engine Room Gallery.

Hagan’s paintings are often rooted in history and considerations of the present day. The past influences his work in the present as a means to make sense of contemporary problems. As Hagan himself describes “we cannot help but make similar mistakes to the people before us, but we can learn from them too. At times of conflict, where there is devastation there is always hope and even rebirth.”

‘Head’ is a painting that deals with the burden of the physical and the emotional weight of time. The face in the painting is taken from an image of a group procession through a town, carrying a statue. Hagan explains that the expression on the men’s faces as they carry this huge weight echoes ideas discussed by Italo Calvino in Six Memos for the Next Millennium (1985- 86). Calvino uses the story of Perseus and the head of Medusa to illustrate the control of lightness and weight – “Perseus masters that terrible face by keeping it hidden, just as he had earlier defeated it by looking at its reflection. In each case his power derives from refusing to look directly while not denying the reality of the world of monsters in which he must live, a reality he carries with him and bears as his personal burden.”