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First ever full-scale survey of Jim Shaw's work opens at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Jim Shaw, Capitol Viscera Appliances mural 2011. Photo: LeeAnn Nickel Los Angles courtesy the artist and Simon Lee Gallery London / Hong Kong.

GATESHEAD.- Jim Shaw (born 1952) is one of America’s most important and prolific contemporary artists. Part of a ground-breaking group that graduated from CalArts in the late 1970s including Mike Kelley, John Miller and Tony Oursler, Shaw has one of the most distinctive visual imaginations of his generation. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents the first ever full-scale survey of his work internationally and the first large-scale solo exhibition for 13 years. It brings together more than 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings and videos from the last 25 years, including several works that have never been exhibited before.

Shaw’s work is informed by a relentless inquiry into the imagery of popular culture, the vernacular, art history, politics, religion and myth, as well as his own unconscious mind. An obsessive cultural cataloguer, he draws from these disparate sources to make work in distinct series that are intensively researched and often take years to complete. His first major project, My Mirage 1986-91, charted the changing psyche of his alter-ego Billy from adolescence in middle America, to his discovery of sex and drugs then to his subsequent fall and rebirth through organised religion.

In the subsequent series Shaw examined his unconscious mind, recording and translating his nightly dreams into the Dream Drawings from 1991-1992. Creating an endless repository of inspiration for future works, many drawings have since provided the impetus for his extensive body of sculpture – the Dream Objects. Towards the end of the 1990s Shaw focused on his fictitious religion Oism, a ‘faith for the faithless’, creating an insight into its historical evolution, dogmas and rites through sculpture, performance and writing. A significant body of Abstract Expressionist-related painting also emerged from the series.

Shaw’s most recent works reveal him to be as significant a force as ever. In 2004 he began his Banner Projects – monumental banners filled with heterogeneous references to create a disorientating theatre-set vision of a schizoid America. His two-part ‘Cake’ paintings, which emerged in 2010, layer diverse art-historical and psychological references on top of inkjet prints of iced cakes from 1950s household magazines.

Shaw’s major series have previously only been presented in isolation. BALTIC’s exhibition will be the first to represent them together, along with smaller experimental projects, examining the intricate interplay between them and revealing the richness of the artist’s conceptually driven practice for over three decades. This comprehensive presentation will confirm Shaw to be one of the most enquiring and influential artists working today, dissecting the fractured nature of contemporary visual culture and the popular imagination at an unprecedented level.

JIM SHAW born in 1952 in Midland, Michigan he attended University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 1974, BFA; California Institute of the Arts, 1978, MFA. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Recent exhibitions include; Jim Shaw, Metro Pictures, New York, US (2012); Jim Shaw: Fumetto, International Comix-Festival Luzern, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland (2011); Cakes, Men in Pain, White Rectangles, Devil in the Details, Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica, US (2011);Thrilling Stories from the Book of “O”, Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris, France (2011); Left Behind CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain, Bordeaux (2010); New Works, Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Athens, Greece (2010); Labyrinth: I Dreamed I Was Taller Than Jonathan Borofsky, Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse, France (2009); Wet Dreams, Erotic Dream Drawings by Jim Shaw PrazDelavallade, Paris (and 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007); The Whole: A Study in Oist Integrated Movement, Simon Lee Gallery, London, UK (2009).

Recent group exhibitions include; Incongogru: Quand l’art fait rire, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland (2011); Interchange, Exchange LA, Los Angeles, US; All of the above (carte blache á John Armleder), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2011); Secret Societes: to know, to dare, to will, to keep silence, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (exh. cat) This exhibition travelled to CAPC - Musée d’Art, Contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France (2011); California Dreamin: Myths and legends of Los Angeles, Galerie Almine Rech, Paris, France (2011); All That Is Unseen, Allan Nederpelt Gallery, Greenpoint, US (2011); Echoes, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, France (exh. cat); The Archaic Revival, curated by Dani Tull, Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles, US (2011); Musique plastique, Galerie du jour Agnes B, Paris, France (2011) Citysonic – Festival des Arts sonores, Grande Halle, Mons, Belgium (2011); The Spectacular of Vernacular, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, US (exh. cat). This exhibition travelled to Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, US (2011).

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