Ink & Photoshop on canvas (2013)
Robert Haggis is one of the most outstanding artists of the decade. With each new work he further widens the boundary of what art can do. A young man at merely 26, Haggis is a shining star that has taken the art world by storm. With the unveiling of his latest piece, Dark Lines Will Consume You, Haggis continues to cement his place among the greats.
Dark Lines is a work with many layers. Any undertones of softness and compassion are buried by the maw of darkness and anarchy. Notes of social stigma, often a theme in Haggis’ work, are sprinkled throughout. While many seem to interpret the piece as a commentary on pre-colonial barbarism in America, the astute viewer will find so much more beneath the surface.
Dark Lines displays a truly bold use of space and emotion that serves to represent the faceless oppression that so many endure. It is a remarkable dual-statement on both the nature of modern racial discrimination, as well as the stunted creative growth that small businesses face from the bureaucracy of a corporate-run world. Dark Lines is an impressive example of how art can be used to forcefully drive home a clear message.
This being said, there seem to be those who still do not “get it.” Fellow art critic Richard Guess has called the piece a “work of anti-war propaganda that conveys a loss of innocence in society as a whole.” This assertion is so laughably off-base that I nearly snorted paint out my nose. Haggis’ work is so much deeper than that, so much more evocative. A simpleton such as Guess has no business even pretending to understand such a moving piece.
Always something of mystery, Haggis has always remained tight-lipped about the meaning behind his work. In an interview with NPR about his previous major piece, Haggis had this to say:
“I’m getting kind of sick of people finding deep meanings in my work that aren’t actually there. Sometimes I just want to draw some random stuff, okay? Just because it is dark and gritty doesn’t mean there’s any depth behind it. Things don’t always have to be complicated, guys. ”
While most took his comment at face value, again the astute among us (me) chose to look deeper to get the real message. You see, in this carefully planned statement, Haggis has left us a code.
Start at the letter “R” in the word “work” (“R” of course being the first letter of Robert Haggis’ name, is the logical place to start). Then, if you follow the simple pattern of counting forward eight letters, back two, forward thirty-eight, forward twenty-seven, forward one, forward seven, back thirty-two, back twenty, forward four, forward nine, forward two, back twenty-two, forward three, back seven, back twenty-six, back ten, forward four, and forward one hundred eighty-one, what does that spell?!
READ BETWEEN THE LINES
Precisely! A clear message from the creator himself, telling us that there is so much more to his work than we could ever obtain from merely a passing glance. Haggis made this statement in early January of this year. And then, barely three months later, what does he give us? Dark LINES. A brilliantly orchestrated move in which the mystery that lies within the piece was carefully foreshadowed months before. This is an enigmatic master at his best.
When I reached Mr. Haggis for comment about his piece, and the connection between his coded statements, he replied:
“Are you kidding me? I just like cats and thought the stuff looked cool! Please stop emailing me.”
I would expect no less from a man with the cryptic genius that Haggis possesses. He must of course retain his air of mystery, for the sake of his art. So I was content to bask in this revelation by myself, with or without Haggis’ official comments on the issue. But then, as I was preparing to write up the review for Dark Lines, I received an email out of the blue from Mr. Haggis. It was short, but accomplished its goal.
Did you seriously eat my goddamn art? I worked really hard on that you crazy bitch! I got some kind of letter from your asshole lawyers saying that that’s how you do reviews, and apparently eating my shit is your legal right somehow? Who the hell do you think you are? I’m going to find the shit out of some lawyers and then kick you in the judicial dick, you harpy! I hope you get hit by a train full of used syringes.”
I read the email over multiple times to be certain of what Haggis was telling me. It could not be any clearer. So I furrowed my brow, and went to work. Forward seven, back forty-nine, forward five, etc… I counted out the new pattern, re-arranged some letters, and then rejoiced as Haggis’ secret message, his real message, was revealed:
SUFFERING GOAT BONER
I smiled a knowing smile. Indeed, Mr. Haggis. Indeed.