Artist: Andrew Hansen
Exhibition: Bar Scene #1
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Andrew Hansen is currently an undergraduate student working toward his BFA degree in the CSULB School of Art’s Drawing & Painting Program. Apart from his school life, Andrew likes to design tattoos, which travels full circle back into his passion for drawing. Several of my classmates asked him to share what inspired this art piece, and he gladly replied with an in-depth look at the environment that grants him unlimited inspiration for people-focused paintings. The bar setting comes from real life: Andrew works as a bouncer in San Diego at what I believe he said to be the “Pacific Shores Bar”. The hand and fingers in the painting are his as he checks the ID of a potential bar-goer. He stated that within the painting, he isn’t actually looking at the identification card, but at the young woman being hit on by several men. These characters also come from real life inspiration, all painted in the image of people that Andrew Hansen personally knows.
The painting itself is very fascinating. Drawn in a warped view, the bar ceiling looks distorted and much higher than it probably is in real life. The faces of the individuals are given lots of detail, creating a personality for each character. The large man in the green shirt looks smug and confident, while the gentlemen talking to him appears much more mild-mannered. Two men by the bar counter approach the woman from the left and right, creating a predatory atmosphere around the entire situation. Her bright red top contrasts the un-inviting black and blue worn by the two men, and just as I am writing this I realize that particular trio of colors placed together usually appears in crime photos of bruised and battered women. This immediate association may be unintentional, but I am certainly not the only viewer to make the connection.
I believe Andrew Hansen is trying to capture a snapshot of the late night bar scene as he has seen it numerous times. Being a bouncer, Andrew has had to deal with the messiest of bar situations, as well as uncomfortable ones like the woman and two men. He sees the dual nature of the bar, which is enticing yet dangerous in excess. The purple man in the left corner adds an abstract feel to the piece, like an anonymous avatar for all bar-goers who have to present their IDs. After comparing so many faces in a night, Andrew probably no longer recalls any of the faces he’s checked, turning them into a singular blur.
Personally, this piece represents the crazy, dark world of the bar scene. Due to my lack of experience with bouncers or bars, the purple man looks like a mythical gatekeeper to a world with different rules. He’s like the Cheshire Cat inviting you down the rabbit hole, before disappearing and never returning. I thought of this piece as a warning sign of what’s interesting and what’s wrong with bars. The warped view reminds me of a child’s perspective, gazing at an upwards 45 degree angle at the adults’ world. The interpretation of this work depends highly on your knowledge and opinion of bars, which is something Andrew Hansen probably had in mind.