L.A.: Tabulae ad Astra (Los Angeles: Maps to the Stars) by Dirk Hagner is a series of prints integrating portions of street maps of Los Angeles with gestural lines, impromptu marks from testing pen nibs, and cutting lines on boards—all unwittingly produced in the artist’s studio while working on other projects. The combined layers of intersecting and overlapping marks take on a surprising cartographic character that is reinforced by additional ancient map-like elements such as measurement grids, Latin phrases, beastiary, and scale markers. The resultant prints are also physically connected to the Los Angeles landscape, being printed on paper that was first soaked and stained in the waters of the L.A. River. Together Tabulae ad Astra plays on the constant tensions of control vs. freedom, order vs. complexity, safety vs. adventure, and city vs. wilderness.
Dirk Hagner was born, raised and educated in Germany, where he studied at the Folkwang School of Fine Arts, University of Essen. Since the 1980s he lives in the United States. In his art, old and new techniques and ideas compliment each other. Working in new directions, he constantly finds himself drawing historic, geographic, political and artistic connections to the past. Old procedures like letterpress and etching are joined with photo intaglio and fax machine. Influences from European and American art meet the sensibilities of line and space of the Far East. New ideas refer to old concepts and traditional methods express contemporary content. With his often-wry interplay of Eastern and Western elements and sensibilities, he gives a new edge to the traditional “bite” of the print, jotting down notes on our world and human folly.