press release

The Los Angeles based conceptual artist Jim Shaw is known for playing cut and paste with styles ranging from Minimalism to monster magazine illustration, through several multipart, quasi-narrative projects: the curation of mostly anonymous thrift store paintings, the recording and translation of his dreams into three-dimensional reality, the autobiography of Billy a fictitious adolescent- a project titled My Mirage consisting of numerous works in video, drawing, painting sculpture and print components. All these narratives are used by Shaw as an invisible structural component to his work.

This time Shaw presents a religious epic, Kill Your Darlings , based in the teachings of O-ism, a fictitious American religion (invented entirely by himself). The paintings of the show - supposedly poster illustrations for a series of Oist religious films - set in a baroquely elaborate fictional context, are a conflation of abstract painting, popular culture and mystical religions. Most of the picture is left empty- purportedly for the later insertion of captions, titles, credits- while the main imagery in each consists of a row of disembodied heads, allegedly figures from the O-ist history.

Jim Shaw has long admired the works of illustrators and special effects artists (– he himself toiled for many years in the field of effects, animation, storyboards and illustration). Particularly the blank areas in illustrations left to accommodate projective texts, titles or, in the case of matte paintings, actors, have drawn him. These empty spaces are spaces of transformation. For that they are bases and inspiration for this body of new works.

By juxtaposing the metaphysical associations of Color Field painting with “low“ commercial naturalism then filtering the result through a construction of modern spirituality the artist engineers a bizarre compendium of compromised attempts at purity. Shaw’s new project is a provocative reconceptualization of the high/ low divide and a sly critique of modernist painting’s quest for “purity”.


only in german

Jim Shaw
Kill your Darlings