George Shaw, Ash Wednesday, 8:30 a.m., 2004/5, Humbrol enamel on board, © the Artist, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London.
George Shaw, The Back That Used to be The Front, 2008, Humbrol enamel on board, 91 × 121 cm.
George Shaw,Thin Ice, 2009, Humbrol enamel on board (43 × 53 cm).
George Shaw, 2000 AD, 2008, Humbrol enamel on board, 46 × 55 cm.
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
South Shore Road
+ 44 (0)191 478 1810
George Shaw. The Sly and Unseen Day
February 18-May 15, 2011
The Sly and Unseen Day is the first historical examination of the artist’s work to date, bringing together some 40 paintings from1996 to the present day.
Within a practice that has encompassed drawing, video-making, performance and writing, Shaw is best known for his expansive body of painting. Working from photographs taken of and around his childhood home on the Tile Hill Estate, Coventry, Shaw’s landscapes are at once familiar and unnerving. Unassuming buildings, patches of woodland, pubs, his school, the park, and the arbitrary details of urban infrastructure deposited by town planners, are the cast of a series of paintings ongoing since the mid-1990s.
Painted exclusively in Humbrol enamel, the material of choice for teenage model-makers, Shaw’s subject matter brings about associations of domesticity, folk art and a nostalgia for a lost childhood and adlescence. Yet, as The Sly and Unseen Day reveals, Shaw’s art quickly moves beyond the autobiography it first suggests. His jarring, atmospheric paintings become peculiar records of Englishness and are suggestive of a different state of mind. Even his more tranquil paintings, for example Scenes from the Passion: Pig Wood and Scenes from the Passion: The Way Home (both 1999), included within the exhibition, retain a peculiar tension.
As the exhibition progresses we see Shaw take an investigative journey, typically making something out of nothing, as beauty is found in the mundane. The Ash Wednesday series (2004-5) depicts the estate hour-by-hour on a single day. Other paintings, such as The Age of Bullshit 2010 (a demolished pub) and The Assumption 2010 (the local school), offer a curious record of British social and class life. Conflating memory and present day reality, Shaw’s art takes on an uncanny quality, alluding to a murkier side of contemporary society and collective subconscious.
This will be the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to date and will be accompanied by a major new publication with essays by Michael Bracewell and Laurence Sillars, a new piece of fiction by Peter Hobbs and an unpublished conversation between the artist and Gordon Burn conducted in 2007.
George Shaw was born in 1966 in Coventry. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield Polytechnic from 1986-89 and gained an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1998.
Solo exhibitions have included Looking for Baz. Shaz. Gaz and Daz, Void, Derry (2010); Woodsman, Wilkinson Gallery, London (2009) The End of the World, Galerie Hussenot, Paris (2008); A Day for a Small Poet, Clough Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College, Memphis, USA (2007) Poets Day, Centre d ‘Art Contemporain, Geneva (2006); Ash Wednesday, Wilkinson Gallery, London (2005), What I did this Summer, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2003).
He has participated in group shows in London at White Cube, Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the Jerwood Gallery. Internationally he has exhibited at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, City Art Gallery, Prague, Ex-Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico and Fabian Walter Galerie, Basel.
George Shaw, The Art Teacher, 2009, Pencil on paper (76 × 56 cm).