OVERVIEWFEB 12 to MAR 26Simon Lee GallerySolo Exhibition
- Solo Exhibition
Dates and Opening hoursFEB 12 to MAR 26, 2013
Monday to Saturday: 10.00am to 6.00pm
Simon Lee Gallery
InformationThe imagery in this exhibition is a kaleidoscope of superheroes, Blakean mysticism and utopian idylls, demonstrating Shaw’s unique style of post-modern eclecticism, where references to Sigmund Freud and Dr Seuss are happily juxtaposed. The artist’s radically heterogeneous appropriation of iconography is matched by his equally nomadic approach to media. Oil paintings and pencil drawings are interspersed with sculptures and film, characteristic of an artist whose media have ranged from found thrift store paintings to monumental banners.
This body of work also sees Shaw continue to develop his phantasmatic religion, Oism. Complete with its own founding myths, sacred rituals, and counterfeit modern revivalist, Shaw’s constructed mythology draws attention to the tales of fantasy and fiction that permeate American identity from Mormonism to Hollywood. The comic book acts as a further source of fantastical narrative to which Shaw makes frequent reference throughout the exhibition; and comic book aesthetics are explored in a series of pencil drawings, as well as a group of sculptures that take the form of wigs styled into extravagant coiffures. A ginger Afro is bejewelled by shards of pink crystal, and a white and blue mane cascades like a waterfall, wrong footing the art world’s aura of elitism with an unsettling streak of absurdity.
A number of exhibited works derive from the artist’s dreams, an activity that previously occupied Shaw for almost a decade and resulted in the Dream Objects and Dream Drawings series. By allowing the flotsam and jetsam of contemporary life to wash up in his practice in this highly subjective way, Shaw conflates reality, myth and fantasy. A diverse array of imagery is mixed together in the spin-cycle of the artist’s subconscious, from which emerges apparently chance configurations of cultural debris that evoke the experience of wandering through a flea market. Shaw is part cultural historian, part shaman, compulsively chronicling the humorous and absurd facets of a late-capitalist society, as well as its sinister underbelly of moral anxiety and corruption. The schizoid unease of Shaw’s visual iconography is explored further in the painted and drawn portraits, in which dislocated and fractured body parts form a recurring motif and induce disquiet like a William Burroughs ‘cut-up’.
Abundance operates as a critical strategy in Shaw’s work, and each image offers a cornucopia of signification so hypertrophied that it resists the interpretative resolutions that might diffuse it. For example, in a single image we encounter abstruse jargon that recalls the language of pseudo-science, painted Egyptian-style figures reminiscent of ancient arcane, and a found theatre-set backdrop evocative of nineteenth century representations of the American landscape. It seems that Shaw’s psyche experiences an irresistible impulse to explore the flood of imagery to which it has been exposed, resulting in work that is often saturated with references to mass-market consumerism, art history and psychoanalysis. The artist’s use of references, seemingly, without referent induces a sense of Jean Baudrilliard’s ‘hyperreality,’ which brings the concept of ‘reality’ itself into question.
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