Jim Shaw: “An Artist Talks”

Jim Shaw: “An Artist Talks”

Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm

Photo: LeeAnn Nickel, Los Angeles.

November 5, 2015
Jim Shaw: “An Artist Talks”

Thursday, November 19, 2015, 6pm

Royal Institute of Art
Flaggmansvägen 1, Skeppsholmen
111 49 Stockholm


As part of its The Domain of the Great Bear platform, the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm is pleased to present a lecture by the artist Jim Shaw.

Since the 1970s, Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings and advertisements. At the same time, Shaw has consistently turned to his own life and his unconscious as sources of artistic creativity. Providing a blend of the personal, the commonplace, and the uncanny, Shaw’s works frequently place in dialogue images of friends, family members, world events, pop culture and alternate realities. Often unfolding in long-term narrative cycles, the works contain systems of cross-references and repetitions that rework similar symbols and motifs, allowing a story-like thread to be perceived. In Punks Out of the Past, Doug Harvey notes that “those conversant with Shaw’s archetypal vocabulary will find themselves in familiar territory here: debased Surrealist and Warholian gestures, occult, paranormal appropriations; B-movie monsters and pulp fiction illustrations; curdled depictions of the Middle American Dream.”

In a 1992 interview with Benjamin Weissman, Shaw reflected on his practice as an “obsession with working, derived from a feeling of having to constantly prove your worth because of the ‘Drama of the Gifted Child’ set-up of attempting to gain conditional love by being perfect all the time (with perfectionism being a trait of self-hatred, and narcissism being a trait of self-hatred).” Shaw continues: “I work all the time, and I enjoy it. I mean, there are two parts to the working—there’s the inspiration and then there’s the making of the art. And the inspiration is the greatest part. It’s like drug activity in the brain—you get an idea and you start going, ‘Oh, yeah,’ and then you get more ideas, and you sort them out, and then you come up with an idea for the piece. And then you make the piece, which has its own enjoyable aspects. Like drawing things to ‘perfection’ is an enjoyable thing. It gives me a feeling of a little more control over the universe, since it’s obviously not a controllable thing at all. A function of insecurity and anal retentiveness. But I’m trying to introduce other, scarier things into the work. More tastelessness, even more, and yet again more tastelessness than has already been exhibited.”


About the artist
Jim Shaw (b. 1952) lives and works in Los Angeles. Shaw studied art at the University of Michigan and thereafter at the California Institute of the Arts in LA. Currently exhibiting The End is Here at the New Museum in NYC, Shaw has had major solo exhibitions at MASS MoCA (2015); the Chalet Society, Paris (2014); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2012); LACMA (2012); CAPC, musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2010); MoMA PS1 (2007); and Casino-Luxembourg (1999). His work has been featured in many international group exhibitions, including in the Venice Biennale (2013); Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A., 1990–1997, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (1997); Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s, LA MOCA (1992); and the Whitney Biennial in 1991 & 2002, among others.


About The Domain of the Great Bear 
The Domain of the Great Bear is a research platform of the Royal Institute of Art. It is a series of public lectures, workshops and events focusing on art, art production, and the changing conditions for that production. Past lectures within the series may be viewed at Domain of the Great Bear’s online archive.

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Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm
November 5, 2015

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