Parkinson's Disease Sharpens Focus for Painter Hans Magden

Hans Magden, Fiddler

"Fiddler" by Hans Magden

Vivid, loud and raw, Hans Magen’s paintings are hard to walk by. As art critic Martha Mahoney put it, “It’s like viewing a uterus — whether you like it or not, you can’t stop staring at it.”  Hans’ exceptionally provocative recent work hones in on the emotional core of his struggle with the disabling affliction of Parkinson’s disease.

A degenerative nervous system disorder, Parkinson’s disease causes tremors, rigidity, poor coordination, and slowness of movement. Hans had recently retired from his rural Oregon veterinary practice to devote his time to painting when his shaking became too violent to steady a brush.

“It was a desperation moment. I thought I would never be able to paint again.”

Hans had always worked through challenges to get the job done, from riding the rugged terrain of Hells Canyon to running trail marathons, boxing, wrestling and working long hours in freezing temperatures. He essentially trained his left hand to paint as he used it to steady his right. But that wasn’t the only obstacle the disease posed — Hans found Parkinson’s was taxing his stamina. Hans realized he would have to fundamentally change his approach, paring his paintings down to their core elements.

“In the urgency to express the image, I removed the nonessential parts of the paintings and found it freed me up to paint what I feel from the outside world — it’s infinite.”

Hans Magden is a follower of Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh who has painted hundreds of canvases over decades, yet only recently sought recognition and gallery representation. He’ll make his Artexpo New York debut on March 25-27 in Booth #757B on the Main Floor.

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