sasha ezberova

George Shaw’s “Banal” Landscapes

Artist’s portrait (left) and his painting ‘The Resurface’, oil on canvas, 2010

George Shaw, No Returns, oil on canvas, 2009

George Shaw’s works (shortlisted for Turner prize this year) are constantly connected with the theme Location. His paintings are a retrospective of his early years, the past days he spent in Coventry, when feelings were intense and ordinary places had strong meanings. He explores the most usual places, such as gardens, playgrounds, back yards, garage doors – the banal landscape.

“Shaw is an artist curiously out of step and out of time. Like the references to classic sitcoms that pepper his speech (The Likely Lads, Hancock’s Half Hour, Steptoe and Son) and his sartorial style (brogues, button-down shirt, Crombie, more reformed football hooligan than carefully dishevelled bohemian), his paintings hark back to a time when things seemed simpler. He is a painter of everyday life as it is, or was when he was younger, though there is precious little life in his paintings: no adults, no children, no mongrels or pitbulls or startled wood pigeons, just quiet, deserted places.

"To me, they are teeming with human presences," he says. "The people I grew up with, family, passers-by, they are all in there somewhere, embedded in the paintings."

“That something – a memory, an atmosphere, a recalled adolescent experience or encounter, hinted at but never delineated – lurks in all Shaw’s paintings of Tile Hill. It is there not just in the seemingly mundane subject matter, but in the almost realist style, a style that, in lesser hands, could teeter into kitsch or even folk art. It is there, too, in the sheen of the paint on the wooden surface: the now famous Humbrol sheen. In his choice of paint – Humbrol enamel of the kind used by generations of children to coat Airfix model planes, the miniature Spitfires and Hurricanes they had laboured over for hours – Shaw made his own almost imperceptible nod towards conceptualism, towards the supremacy of the idea and the process behind the art.

The Humbrol sheen lifts the paintings out of the realm of the purely representational, the ultra-realist, and takes it somewhere else, somewhere both old-fashioned and timeless, conservative yet contemporary. “It’s that glow that you only see when you’re walking home from the pub alone,” he says. “That solitary glow, the glow of a telly though a window or streetlights reflected on rain on the streets.”

(Taken from The Guardian)

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