CAPC musée d’art contemporaincontinues to delve into the realm of subculture with this solo show devoted to the artist Jim Shaw.
Painting, drawing, sculpture, video, installation and performance are all media used by this American artist since the late 1970s, helping him to put across an encyclopaedic and hectic vision. Jim Shaw is an atypical figure in California’s art circles, sharing with Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley the same desire to produce a visual body of work aimed at exploring the dark side of an American society that is conformist and standardized. Jim Shaw draws his inspiration from a vernacular culture on this side of the pigeonholes established by art history: pictures by amateur artists unearthed in bric-à-brac stores, popular cult objects, comics, rock music, B movies, etc.
After putting together a collection of more than 400 canvases by ‘visionary’ Sunday
painters (Thrift Store Paintings), and after drawing his dreams (Dreams) for more than ten years, since 2002 the artist has been involved with a project to do with inventing a religion which recycles the country’s ground-breaking myths and various crypto- sectarian American beliefs (Oism).
For his exhibition in Bordeaux, the artist will be showing his latest output, consisting of some fifteen monumental pictures accompanied by sculptures in the museum’s nave. In outmoded cityscapes from old theatre sets, the forms painted by the artist seem to float, apparition-like. Inspired by William Burroughs’s cut-up technique, Shaw here offers a vision of schizoid America, somewhere between dream and nightmare. As an accumulation of moments of a personal history and bits and pieces of a collective cultural history, the heterogeneity of the illustrative sources is both surprising and intriguing: episodes from the artist’s life, iconic symbols of American culture, references from modern art history, biblical imagery, Hollywood imagery, political and media personalities, depictions of consumerism, visions of 9/11’ To this is added their equally disparate stylistic treatment, mixing different visual languages: modernist abstraction, cinematic hyperrealism, western imagery, and advertisements from the 1950s, along with a diagrammatic treatment of the comic strip and Hollywood movies. Distortion, fragmentation and multiplication all bolster the impression of deliquescence, and the sensation of a world that doesn’t make sense.
For several years now, fascinated as he is by millenarian movements preaching the end of the world, the artist has been collecting objects making use of apocalyptic iconography. This collection will be on view for the first time in the CAPC exhibition.
This is specific to the core aspect of the “Left Behind” series : as Jim Shaw said, it is about “the death of the labor movement, due to Reaganism andglobalization,and their displacement by born again Christians, as well as the burial of the New Deal era small town capitalism, replaced by the casino capitalism of the 00s.’
The exhibition will open with a musical performance by the artist and his group with
instruments/sculptures devised to this end.