Karl Haendel (born 1976 in New York, NY) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Karl Haendel’s practice revolves around the appropriation of visual signifiers and their recontextualization through drawing. For Haendel, the act of drawing symbolically aligns him with labor, while also invoking a basic human impulse to leave a mark and offering a physical system to reconsider accepted imagery. Haendel’s drawings, often uncanny renderings, pointedly remove images and texts from their original contexts and reconfigure them through graphite, scale and juxtaposition into a new form of visual language. He challenges viewers to move slowly and with greater awareness through the world of images and signs in order to reveal how these signs make meaning and shape our conceptions.
In a recent series of drawings, Haendel juxtaposed photorealistic graphite renderings of lions, cheetahs and tigers with inked cartoon illustrations of pop accessories, such as Rolex watches, Nike sneakers, or Dr. Martens boots. In doing so, the artist engages us in a philosophical dilemma; that as humans we can never "know" or “understand” wild animals, yet we cannot not project our own human motivations and characteristics onto them. Set within the historical context of hunting and displaying wild animals as trophies, and echoed today in its modern incarnation–the discovering and collecting of art at art fairs–ideas of nature, power and ownership are here reimagined for the 21st century.