Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Naga Stand

Here's today's item from outside the Portland art museum, Naga Stand by James Lee Hansen, which is part of a larger series titled Guardian. If Naga Stand looks oddly familiar, you might be thinking of Hansen's Talos No. 2 and Winter Rider No. 2, both on Portland's downtown transit mall. Hansen's website includes a 1970 article about his work up to that point, with a brief and opaque description of the Guardian series:

Here we find that the first “Guardian” image--in which evolved organic masses create a cohesive environment around a vertical axis, the whole suggesting a ceremonial watchfulness recalling mythological soldiery. Craft-object and organic relationships fuse to create a language of form.

Transcending the visual aesthetic, the ‘Guardian” series exhibits the “intensity of feeling compressed into rigid form” that Herbert Read labels “iconographic.” Behind the polished surface of sculptural technique is an indicator pointing to the archetypal realm.

In any case, I imagine Talos No. 2 is part of this series too, since frankly I can't tell it and Naga Stand apart. Call me an uncultured philistine if you like.

As for the name, "Naga" could mean any number of things; the Wikipedia disambiguation page is one of the larger ones I've seen. The 1970-1971 date means it's too early to be inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons monster (which is in turn inspired by a Sanskrit deity). Apparently there's a circa-1969 comic book villain named "Naga" though, and that's exactly the right time period. So in lieu of any further information or research, I'm going to assume this thing's named after the evil merman-turned-serpent-god king of the Lemurians. The true story is almost certainly far less interesting.

No comments :