Jim Shaw, The End Is Here (Installation View)
Jim Shaw,Thrift Store Paintings
As much as these collected objects offer a conceptual ground for Shaw’s repeated interest in the sacredly profane, these materials offer perhaps one of the more in-depth formal studies an artist has provided on their own work. The combination of texts and images look strikingly familiar to the works hung one floor above and one below. Of particular note is the wall of religious posters, where strange artistic choices and illustrations make the works at turns horrifying and at others laughable, particularly in one where a pair of subjects attempt to cross an enormous cross, wedged into a chasm. In another, a set of three bodiless hands gesture towards the action depicted in the rest of the poster, distracting the viewer from the actual content. Much like Shaw’s own compositions, these attempts at gravitas ultimately self-destruct on the page, leaving a twisted wreckage of concepts and figures.
The selection of Shaw’s paintings over the last few decades take strong cues from these dual projects, particularly on the second floor, where his interest in U.F.O. studies and Abraham Zapruder are paired against his comical paintings of aliens, and his series My Mirage, which transposes a young American boy’s descent into drugs and cults before finding salvation in Jesus. On the fourth floor, a similar operation is executed with the artist’s Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky, a multi-layered, full-room installation that combines the artist’s unique painterly hand with a series of what appear to be stage pieces, pulling in references to Led Zeppelin, Picasso, Nixon, and a range of other cultural signifiers, arranged in a cluttered array of violent poses that call to mind Bosch’s vivid sufferings on canvas. Yet with Shaw, these archetypes of suffering, death and anguish are transposed onto the figureheads of modernity, icons who have in fact rendered real violence or cultural flux on the world. In this sense, it’s Shaw’s defining move throughout the show, bringing the religious icons and narratives of antiquity back down to earth, and forcing the viewer to consider that maybe their models of cruelty and greatness have been here on our own planet the whole time.
The End is Hear is on view at the New Museum Through January 10th.
Jim Shaw, Left To Right: Hudson Bubble Gum, Hudson Pencil (1993)
— D. Creahan
This entry was posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2015 at 12:00 am and is filed under Art News, Featured Post, Show. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.