Jim Shaw: Drawings
On show as part of its ‘Viewing Room’ programme, Simon Lee Gallery presents a concise selection of drawings by Los Angeles-based artist Jim Shaw. The remarkable variation in scale and visual narrative on display highlights a crucially important part of the artist’s oeuvre, and the works on view trace defining elements in his ongoing artistic practice with humour, skill and insight. Whether as preparatory studies or as works in their own right, these monochromatic works on paper offer an intimate sense of the artist’s creative and conceptual process that mines the collective subconscious of American culture through a mix of the familiar and the absurd.
A polyphony of sources - comic books superheroes, Blakean mysticism, utopian idylls, symbols of pop culture - crowd Shaw’s drawings and demonstrate his unique style of post-modern eclecticism. The abundance of visual imagery on display, used by Shaw as a critical strategy in his work, is mirrored in the busy installation of the exhibition, at the centre of which is work from the Blake/Boring series. Here Shaw mimics the stylised bodies and fantasy world of the pre-Romantic artist William Blake and 1950’s silver age superhero comic style of Wayne Boring, a leading Superman artist of his youth. Like the inward-looking, imaginary trajectory of Blake’s oeuvre, Shaw’s feverish exposure of representational narratives and pseudo-worlds are charged with a supernatural, dream-like subtext.