Friday, 14 August 2009

Shaw thing

George Shaw was born in 1966 in the Tile Hill district of Coventry, which continues to be the subject of a remarkable series of paintings.

Shaw paints on board, using old-fashioned Humbrol enamel paints, creating a surface of rich luminosity that, in my view, is impossible to reproduce faithfully on paper or on screen.

I discovered Shaw by accident when I dropped in at Birmingham's Ikon Gallery some years ago and discovered a major exhibition of his work. Big impact.

The images seem bathed in light and, always devoid of human figures, seem to invite us to view these very 'ordinary' council-estate scenes with fresh eyes.

Rather like the painter Jeremy Duncan, Shaw seems eager to turn aside from subjects that are traditionally associated with landscape painting: the seashore, the mountains, the garden, the country estate.

And in so doing, he challenges us to look again, to question our definitions of 'beautiful' and, perhaps, to extend our understanding of the sacred...

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