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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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Jim Shaw

b. 1952, USA

Seemingly, Jim Shaw's imagination appears to know no bounds. He does not profess one single style or media, instead choosing to operate in naturalistic or Surrealist mode to produce paintings, photographs, sculptures, film, collages, posters, comic strips and installation. While the sources of his inspiration also seem limitless, certain patterns can be identified: comic books, rock albums, current and historical events, art history and fragments from his personal life as well as his friends and families'; and last but not least, the underbelly of American culture and history: consumerism, conspiracy theories, cults and homespun religions. For Shaw, objects and aspects of everyday life aptly reflect the shifting social and political values of American society. His works often reference on each other, engaged in a larger narrative that unfolds over a long period of time.

The investigation of American culture and history has become emblematic of Shaw's works. My Mirage (1986-91), his first major project and a series of 170 images, follows the story of a white middle-class male named Billy as he experiences life in America of the 1960s and 1970s. Sex and drugs are among the few thing Billy encounters, as is rock n' roll, before he falls to cult membership and rises again with the aid of organised religion. On a more personal scale, My Mirage draws on Shaw and his own friends' upbringing. In works such as King Cotton (2015), on the other hand, Shaw's insights are more historical and socio-political. The green mechanical elf spins gold from the cotton giant, a never-ending act that alludes to the repetition of history and questions the morality of pursuit for power and wealth.

In 2002, the Swiss Institute in New York presented The Goodman Image File and Study, which purported to show the works of the O-ist painter Adam O. Goodman. O-ism, according to the exhibition, was an American religion whose origins in the 1840s coincided with the spread of Mormonism. Both O-ism and Goodman were, on the contrary, Shaw's creation. Conceived as a satire of religious fanaticism, Shaw originally intended to employ O-ism to scrutinise the processes necessary in the invention and propagation of a religion. The project has, however, since become larger and more sophisticated–Shaw now considers the influences of its historical context, ranging from spiritualism, feminism, abolitionism and especially utopian communities across America. Subsequently, works such as The Whole: A Study in Oist Integrated Movement (2009), which depicts one of the rituals Shaw has created for his fictive religion, have materialised.

Shaw's work is diverse in media as well as in style. Dream Drawings (1992-1999) series, one of his iconic works, features pencil on paper drawings that feature surreal and yet naturalistic scenes in the style of comic stripes. In a 2015 interview with Ocula, Shaw explained that the uncanny drawings began with his own dreams and their 'occult way of telling ... in a satirical way or a symbolic way with things that are formally similar but not exactly the same'. Also operating in the comic book style is 'Blake/Boring series, ongoing since 2011, which combines the surreal, fantasy world of the 18th century poet and artist William Blake and the superhero comic style of Wayne Boring from the 1950s. Dream Object (1994-present) series ventures into another dimension altogether, often resulting in cartoonlike sculptures and images that border on grotesque.

Living in Los Angeles since his twenties, Shaw belongs to the generation of visionary artists who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. He was particularly close with Mike Kelley, a fellow alumni of the University of Michigan and with whom he moved to Southern California. Upon completing his studies, Shaw worked in the film industry before gaining recognition in the mid-1980s. Since then, he has exhibited internationally including the US, UK, Europe and Hong Kong. In 2003, his work was included in The Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Venice Biennale. The End is Here, a major retrospective of Shaw's work and his first comprehensive museum show in New York, was organised by New Museum in 2015.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Official Portrait (Hospital Bed) by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawOfficial Portrait (Hospital Bed), 2019 Acrylic on muslin
101.6 x 76.2 cm
Metro Pictures
Official Portrait #5 (Jungle Cooper) by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawOfficial Portrait #5 (Jungle Cooper), 2018 Acrylic on muslin
86.4 x 66 x 5.1 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
The Potato Family by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawThe Potato Family, 2018 Acrylic on canvas
51 x 40 inches
Metro Pictures
Macy Conference by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawMacy Conference, 2019 Acrylic on muslin
60 x 48 inches
Metro Pictures
And Baby Makes Three? by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawAnd Baby Makes Three?, 2018 Acrylic on muslin, foam, aqua resin, Fiberglas, wood, metal, acrylic paint, synthetic hair
78.25 x 56 x 15 inches
Metro Pictures
The Modern Family Tree by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawThe Modern Family Tree, 2018 Acrylic on canvas
50 x 35 inches
Metro Pictures
Family Stories by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawFamily Stories, 2019 Acrylic on canvas
62 x 48 inches
Metro Pictures
Official Portrait (Metaluna Mutant and Beautiful Girl) by Jim Shaw contemporary artwork Jim ShawOfficial Portrait (Metaluna Mutant and Beautiful Girl), 2019 Acrylic on muslin
30.12 x 27.12 x 1.38 inches
Blum & Poe

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Jim Shaw, The Family Romance at Metro Pictures, New York
Open Now
26 February–13 April 2019 Jim Shaw The Family Romance Metro Pictures, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Jim Shaw, Jim Shaw at Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong
Closed
27 March–31 May 2018 Jim Shaw Jim Shaw Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Jim Shaw, Drawings at Simon Lee Gallery, London
Closed
8 February–8 March 2018 Jim Shaw Drawings Simon Lee Gallery, London

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Jim Shaw Ocula Conversation Jim Shaw Artist, USA

Jim Shaw: The End Is Here (7 October 2015–10 January 2016), the first New York survey show of Los Angeles-based artist Jim Shaw’s work, reads like a cabinet of curiosities as much as it does an exhibition. Taking up three floors of the New Museum, the show consists not only of paintings, sculptures, videos, drawings and installations by...

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Jim Shaw Ocula Conversation Jim Shaw Artist, USA

The practice of American artist Jim Shaw spans a wide range of both artistic media and visual imagery. Part of a ground-breaking group that graduated from CalArts in the late 1970’s including Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler, Shaw has mined art history, cinema, religion, history, current affairs and the detritus of American culture to find...

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In Related Press

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Connecting the Dots in the Met Breuer’s Show About Conspiracy Theories Related Press Connecting the Dots in the Met Breuer’s Show About Conspiracy Theories Hyperallergic : 15 October 2018

It will likely take me months to digest all the lessons I've learned from The Met Breuer's newest exhibition, Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, so it's a good thing that the show stays open through January.

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Everything is connected: new exhibition on art and conspiracy Related Press Everything is connected: new exhibition on art and conspiracy The Guardian : 17 September 2018

In 1974, Black Panthers artist Emory Douglas created a portrait of Gerald Ford, America's 38th president, being pulled by puppet strings held by giant corporations. A speech bubble had Ford saying: 'I Gerald Ford am the 38th puppet of the United States.'

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L.A. habitat: Jim Shaw Related Press L.A. habitat: Jim Shaw ARTNews : 21 April 2016

As an artist, Jim Shaw is difficult to classify. Shaw’s practice includes painting, drawing, and sculpture as well as showing his prolific and ever-growing collection of found objects. (His 1991 show Thrift Store Paintings was recently restaged for his recent New Museum survey in New York, The End Is Here.)In 1976 Shaw moved to the...

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Jim Shaw celebrates the fabric and weirdness of America at New Museum Related Press Jim Shaw celebrates the fabric and weirdness of America at New Museum The LA Times : 9 December 2015

Jim Shaw is the kind of artist who likes to collect. He started as a kid, with comic books and a library of Monsters magazine. As a teen, he progressed to records, where he refined his taste for the bizarre. One early score was "You're My Girl," a compilation of mood music and poetry delivered morosely by "Dragnet" star Jack...

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