Matthew Hansel | 'My Inner Demon Never Sleeps Alone' at The Hole

Humans and demons come together in art

Written by

Cerys Davies

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Matthew Hansel depicts what it’s like to live with and enjoy your inner demons with his newest exhibit My Inner Demon Never Sleeps Alone at The Hole. The famous New York gallery opened its doors in Los Angeles in 2022, creating a second home for the New York art scene that's been thriving at their La Brea location for the past year. This is Hansel’s third solo show with The Hole.

The exhibition My Inner Demon Never Sleeps Alone is finally complete after three years of arduous work. It is made up of different galleries that all showcase different parts of Hansel’s series. The main gallery is where demons, pixies, and people in the nude flourish on each canvas. Each piece displays all of these creatures intertwined in some sort of ritual or everyday action. All of the people Hansel painted are from brochure clippings advertising west coast nudist colonies in the 1960s and 1970s. The demons and other fantastical figures call upon the work and style of Hieronymus Bosch for inspiration. With this combination of vintage brochures and early Netherlandish painting style, Hansel creates his own allegory for people living with their demons in an otherworldly fashion. 

“Art persuades us of its beauty and allows us to delight in the paradox. It’s this paradoxical world that I am most interested in. Where the freedom exists to fall in love with the unlovable and seek the unknowable. A place where one can eschew the coldness of classical beauty and indulge guilt-free in the allure of the repulsive. A hinterland where you can happily live alongside your demons—or at least date them for a while,” said Hansel.

Left to right: Matthew Hansel "Morning’s Light We Can’t Forget, It Warms Us Like An Ember, Illuminating With Regret, The Nights We Can’t Remember." (2023). Oil and Flashe Paint on Canvas. 70x56in. Matthew Hansel "The Garden Party." (2023). Oil and Flashe Paint on Canvas 70x56in.
Matthew Hansel "A Patterned Promised Land" (Red). (2023). Oil and Flashe Paint on Canvas 70x56 in.

The rear gallery features oil and flashe works that emphasize color and 20th century abstraction through depicting wrinkled carpets, knots and folds. The inspiration from these five pieces come from the first time Hansel saw Vermeer's A Maid Asleep. 

“There’s this beautifully painted rug,” he remembers, “and I thought: that rug is enough for the whole painting.” 

Hansel’s first ever series of drawings takes center stage in the west gallery. This series once again draws on his ideas of how humans and demons can come together. The exhibition will be on display until June 24.

Matthew Hansel "The Hikers." (2023). Flashe Paint and Colored Pencil On Paper 19x12in.
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The Hole, Matthew Hansel, My Inner Demon Never Sleeps Alone, Cerys Davies