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Jim Shaw - Simon Lee Gallery

Simon Lee Gallery

AN EXHIBITION of new work by the Los Angeles-based artist Jim Shaw will be on display at the Simon Lee Gallery from February 13 to March 28, 2009.

Shaw’s layered practice combines disparate aspects of contemporary culture: references range from American entertainment to the art historical. This includes zombie cartoons, 1950s Hoover adverts as well as Abstract Expressionist paintings and the surrealist work of Max Ernst, to name but a few.

Since the early 1970s, Shaw’s work has emerged in cycles, many of which are still ongoing. One project, entitled My Mirage, chronicles the personal and spiritual journey of Billy, Shaw’s fictional teenager and alter-ego from the 1950s. The series consist of over 100 drawings of Billy, which record his state of mind as he rejects suburban life and experiments with hallucinogens and rock music before finding refuge as a born again Christian.

Oism, one of Shaw’s most enduring projects to date, is also linked to the subject of new-age religious movements. Initiated in the late 1990s, it is an artificially created religion complete with a pantheon of characters.

Inspired by Mormonism and the Christian Science movement, Oism was allegedly invented in mid 19th Century America by Annie O’Wooten and believes, among other things, in the backwards movement of time and the supremacy of a female deity, symbolised by the letter “O”. Shaw continuously refines the Oist doctrine and rituals across a variety of media in a relentless effort of self-discovery.

The exhibition marks another chapter in Oism and its rituals. Shaw will present new photographs, paintings, sculpture and video installations. In the film The Whole: A Study of Oist Integrated Movement, the artist orchestrates a symphony of gestures to create a dream like sequence. Here Shaw merges the extravagancy of Busby Berkeley’s films with the esoteric dances instigated by spiritual leaders such as GI Gurdjieff. In another video, the dancers demonstrate the ceremonial gestures in a fashion reminiscent of a 1980s exercise video. These implausible and absurdly comical connections are inherent throughout the artist’s work.

Having once stated that one could “understand the meaning of life through misinterpretation”, Shaw’s practice seems consciously layed and complex in its efforts to liberate the minds of both artist and viewer.

Opening: Thursday, February 12, 2009 (6pm to 8pm).

Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8DT

An exhibition of work by German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann continues at the Simon Lee Gallery until January 31, 2009.
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