This solo exhibition by British artist and Turner Prize nominee George Shaw brings together 18 paintings made over the past 15 years charting the urban landscape of his childhood home on the Tile Hill Estate in Coventry. On view from May 25th through July 3rd 2011 at the South London Gallery
Within a practice that has encompassed drawing, video-making, performance and writing, Shaw is best known for his expansive body of painting. Painted in Humbrol enamels, more usually associated with boyhood model-making, and based on photographs, Shaws works revisit landmarks remembered from his youth. Meticulously painted houses, pubs, underpasses and parks become autobiographical notes, frozen in time.
Shaws subject matter brings about associations of domesticity, folk art and a nostalgia for a lost childhood and adolescence. Yet, as The Sly and Unseen Day reveals, Shaws 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 retain a peculiar tension.
As the exhibition progresses Shaw takes 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 Assumption, 2010 (the local school), offer a curious record of British social life and everyday experience. Conflating memory and present day reality, Shaws art takes on an uncanny quality, alluding to a murkier side of contemporary society and collective subconscious.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of events including George Shaw in conversation with writer and critic Gilda Williams and a selection of comedy and documentary television chosen by Shaw giving an insight into some of the concerns informing his work.
George Shaw has been shortlisted for the 2011 Turner Prize Award alongside Karla Black, Martin Boyce and Hilary Lloyd. The winner will be announced at BALTIC on Monday 5 December 2011. The Sly and Unseen Day was presented at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art from 18 February to 15 May.