NAME: WES LANG BORN: CHATHAM, NEW JERSEY CURRENTLY RESIDING IN: LOS ANGELES EXPERIENCE: ART HANDLER, TATTOOIST, HOUSEPAINTER, SIGN PAINTER MEDIA: DRAWING, PAINTING, BRONZE SCULPTURE INFLUENCES: THE GRATEFUL DEAD, CY TWOMBLY, MARTIN KIPPENBERGER, TATTOOS, GIRLS, MOTORCYCLES
The walls of Wes Lang’s studio in Los Angeles are covered with photographs, drawings, magazine clippings and sketches that read like an exploded diagram of the artist’s mind: skulls, motorcycles, Grateful Dead logos, tattoos, 1970s pinup girls and Rabbit Heads. Lots of Rabbit Heads.
“I find myself drawing the Playboy Rabbit Head in my work all the time. It’s one of the main characters in my world, like the grim reaper or Indians,” says Lang. “My work is about a celebration of a beautiful life, and Playboy is a high representation of that.” Lang, who counts among his prized possessions a nearly complete collection of Playboy magazines, is a walking, working embodiment of the American idea of rebel freedom: His daily uniform is biker boots, black denim, leather vest and full-sleeve tattoos heavy on the Americana; he has designed a boxed set for the Grateful Dead, emblazoned his imagery on everything from coffee mugs to boxers and produced a series of drawings on stationery from the Chateau Marmont.
Although his artwork—dense with rock lyrics, naked girls and slogans of the good life—has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world (including the Museum of Modern Art), we like to think its spiritual home is the magazine you’re holding in your hands. (Lang’s latest exhibition runs from November 7 through the end of the year at Half Gallery in New York City.)
ABOVE: Righteous Nights, 2013, 22 x 30 inches. BELOW: Blood, Chet + Tears, 2013, 22 x 30 inches.
BIKER VEST This leather and waxed-canvas vest is lined with serape fabric and handmade in the USA. ($855, bestwishesinc.com) CHATEAU MARMONT During a monthlong stay at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles in 2011, Lang produced art including a boxed set of prints. ($950, exhibitiona.com) CUSTOM ROLEX Lang collaborated with the Bamford Watch Department on a line of one-of-a-kind custom Rolexes hand-engraved with his artwork. (Prices vary, bamfordwatchdepartment.com) BOOK This monograph features a collection of Lang’s works from the past 10 years and includes short stories by James Frey and an essay by Arty Nelson. ($35, PictureBox/Half Gallery)