Sunday, 15 May 2016

George Shaw - The National Gallery

George Shaw, Study for Hanging Around (Landscape without Figures), 2014
George Shaw: My Back to Nature is at the National Gallery until 30 October 2016.
I have long been a fan of George Shaw’s Humbrol Enamel paintings of the decayed, depressed post-war housing estate of Coventry, where he grew up – Adrian Searle nicely described his work as a miserabilist suburban sort of metaphysical painting. Shaw was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2011 (see below); now, since 2014, he has been the latest Associate Artist in the National Gallery; The appointment is by invitation and is for a period of two years. The artist is given a studio in which to make new work that in some way connects to the National Gallery Collection. It is designed to demonstrate the continuing inspiration of the Old Master tradition on today's artists.
Shaw’s work includes 14 drawings of himself, naked, in poses that are studies of masterpieces in the National Gallery. But the main event is a series of paintings which take their cues from Titian, Breughel and Poussin and which have shifted the artist’s focus away from Tile Hill (the Coventry housing estate which has been his obsessive subject) to nature; or, at least, to the wooded areas on the outskirts of that estate where discarded mattresses and magazines become a feature of the landscape.
Read reviews by Laura Cumming (she describes the show as ‘riveting’), Waldemar Januszczak,  Alastair Smart and Jonathan Jones. Watch a short video: George Shaw: In the Woods, in which the artist talks about the subject material for his new paintings the ‘suburban nature’, the ‘other world’ of the wooded land a few hundred yards away from the housing estates where, take away containers, soft-drink cans, beer cans, crisp packets, condoms… mark its character and use. 
Read A Q&A with George Shaw... painter. Read an interview from 2011 with Sean O'Hagan.
George Shaw, The Sadness of the Middle-Aged Life Model, 2015
George Shaw, The School of Love
George Shaw, the Foot of a Tree, 2015-16
George Shaw, Every Brushstroke is Torn out of my Body
George Shaw, Natural Selection, 2015-16
George Shaw, Natural Selection, 2015-16 (detail)
George Shaw, the Call of Nature
George Shaw, The Rude Screen
George Shaw,  My Back to Nature - installation view, National Gallery

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