The Rinse Cycle
9 November 2012–17 February 2013
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road
Gateshead NE8 3BA UK
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10–18h
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents The Rinse Cycle, the first survey exhibition of Jim Shaw’s work since 1999 and the first exhibition to bring all of his major series together.
Shaw’s work is informed by a relentless inquiry into the imagery of popular culture, the vernacular, art history, politics and religion, as well as his unconscious and ADD-fuelled mind. An obsessive cultural cataloguer, Shaw 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), is a study of 1960s American aesthetics—each of its 170 component works is based on a pre-existing source. Collectively, they form a lose narrative that charts the changing psyche of Shaw’s alter-ego Billy from adolescence to his discovery of sex and drugs, his fall and ultimate rebirth through organised religion.
From 1991 to 1999 Shaw recorded and translated his dreams into the “Dream Drawings.” As a potentially endless repository of inspiration for future works, many of the drawings provided the impetus for an 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 its mythology and pre-history through sculpture, painting, performance and comics.
Shaw’s most recent works reveal him to be as significant a force as ever. In 2004, he began the “Left Behind” banners—monumental paintings created on found theatrical backdrops. Overlaid with heterogeneous references, initially in response to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, they create a disorienting vision of a schizoid America. His two-part Men in Pain paintings, which emerged in 2010, layer diverse art-historical and psychological references on top of medical illustrations and inkjet prints of iced cakes from 1950s household magazine adverts.
Shaw’s archaeological dig into the landscape of American popular culture fetches to light some of its darkest, most deeply buried connections. Bringing together his major series for the first time, The Rinse Cycle reveals the intricate interplay between the different bodies of Shaw’s work, revealing the richness of his conceptually driven practice over three decades.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major publication in association with Koenig Books, London with 150 illustrations and essays by Laurence Sillars, BALTIC Chief Curator; John C. Welchman, Professor of Modern Art History in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego; Darcey Steinke, novelist and Columbia University faculty member; a poem by Anne Carson and Robert Currie and a conversation between Jim Shaw and artist Tony Oursler.