Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I Woz Ere

The George Shaw exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry.

Paintings based on photographs of the Tile Hill housing estate in Coventry where he grew up. Places that people who know the area recognise, places that are familiar and yet unnerving. The paintings are atmospheric and at the same time jarring, where the mundane is rendered mysterious, where beauty exists in the mundane - the use of Humbrol enamels enhances this and gives them an unsettling resonance. And their glassy textures glow: "It's that glow that you only see when you are walking alone from the pub. That solitary glow, the glow from a telly through a window or streetlights reflected on rain on the streets".

A painter of everyday life and yet his paintings are devoid of human life. "To me they are teeming with human presences. The people I grew up with, family, passers-by, they are all in there somewhere, embedded in the paintings". Are the decaying landscapes a sign of a broken Britain, where the dream of post war living has ended in sink estates? Or a record "of the mundane, the quotidian and the overlooked"?

Wednesday Week, (from Scenes from the Passion series), 2003

The New Star, (Scenes from the Passion), 1998

The Library, (Scenes from the Passion), 1997

Detail of Untitled, 2010

Young Lovers Don't, 2010

Hometime, (Scenes from the Passion), 1999

The Fall, (Scenes from the Passion), 1999

The More Deceived, 2006

The Gap, (Scenes from the Passion), 1998

The Anniversary, (Scenes from the Passion), 2004

The Garages, (Scenes from the Passion), 1997

While No One was Looking, 2010.

"It was - there's no other way to put it - a nice place to grow up. A post-war council estate on the edge of Coventry, with trees, grass and loads of woodland just beyond. The last built-up area before the countryside took over. I don't think it has ever left me, that sense of possibility and familiarity and possible danger lurking out there somewhere beyond. I haunted the place and how it haunts me".

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