George Shaw is an artist who paints realistic rural scenes in England. The combinations of architecture, graffiti and litter give his paintings a very relatable feel, with a lot of people knowing what it is like to live in those sorts of areas. A lot of his paintings have a very creepy and dark vibe, which is his intention as he likes taking cliches of the sublime and epiphany and putting them into unexpected places. His work has been viewed as very sentimental, which Shaw doesn’t want to take as a negative quality as he looks for the things he likes or doesn’t like about people in art. He was nominated for the Turner prize in 2011 and his works are shown in several London based areas.
George Shaw’s paintings capture a British feeling, demonstrating the ways that we impact upon the world around us as well as the ways that the world shapes us.
People see George Shaw’s paintings as depicting a foreshadowing of Britain during lockdown as they never include people and portray quite eerie atmospheres. I feel that I could do something similar in my own work to demonstrate how lockdown has affected Leicester and the ways that people see their homes as prisons but this is something I will have to explore in my own time.
I find it fascinating that George Shaw takes everyday common landscapes and areas that we are all used to yet captures them in a hopeless way that makes you realise how the world around us can be daunting yet beautiful at the same time. The realism in the work makes the paintings look like photographs initially which is really impressive.
In this Youtube video, George Shaw talks about his work and how it has changed over the years, starting off as a way of capturing the sentimentality of his adolescence but more recently becoming the opposite of that, a confrontation of things rather than a relaxation into a comfortable situation. This development happened as he wanted to capture places without any signs or indications as to where they were located in a bid to essentially remove the history of the place and allow people to see it for what it is rather than what it has been in the past. This also demonstrates the fact that we go to places in our lifetimes and often have no awareness of the events that have happened there which I find really interesting.
Although George Shaw’s work evokes a bleak feeling in his audience, he personally doesn’t see it that way since he is simply acknowledging the end of something and it doesn’t necessarily have a negative implication/effect. During his time at the Royal College, he realised that he didn’t like that you had to understand a particular language to understand what his previous art was about and instead learned about making art that communicates a certain idea to people that you can have a conversation about to discuss personal opinions.
His work is a way of showing that life is short and you’re not here forever, the places around us that are run down and decaying in certain ways are a representation of himself in a way, and the viewer in others, all based upon personal circumstances. The paintings portray his journey out of this world.
Information I got from video above:
I came to look at the exhibition complete and thought it was quite sad that it would be taken down, I think I’m just beginning to like it, it’s just beginning to settle down in my mind so that’s normally how I experience life, but I just get into the party 10 minutes before closing time and then I’m faced with regret that I didn’t get on with it a little bit earlier. When it gets taken down on Monday, they get put in a box and then it goes on tour little bit like Bob Stewart, the work goes in the box and then reappears in the Lake District or Southampton or wherever without me. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow, and it would still go on without me. It goes way back into the 70s when I was a kid coming down from Coventry so it’s going to be quite interested in the next couple of years or so because that context of the National Gallery will fall away as I travel to places I’ve come to understand as the regions, but I just call it the rest of England that is not in London. George Shaw is a painter; he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2011 with a series of very detailed meticulous images of the council estate on which he was brought up in Coventry showing crumbling pavements and decrepit locked up garages and broken lamp posts and things very much to do with an environment that is manmade, but you don’t see any human figures. They’ve always got this kind of resonance of either things that have happened there or things that are going to happen there, they are narrative landscapes but painted in a very contemporary mode I think that subject of Englishness has been quite deep rooted in my work for many years but it’s not the Englishness of stately homes. I feel that most English people live in taking up on board I think what happened was me thinking about my time as a child and as an adolescent and the kind of world I lived in and then the kind of world at the National Gallery was showing to me. I wanted to bring the two worlds together, really kind of English realism with a very mythical magical narrative, the narratives of Ovid or the narratives of the Christian story’s and bring them altogether in a way in which they came together in my imagination in my head. The one place that marriage did take place was in the Woodland setting for how that I grew up which was a few square miles of Woodland on the edge of accounts of the study but I began to see similarities between that that simple Woodland and the Woodland of Pelini or the woodlanders Pusan or the Woodland of Titan even The Woodlands of constable may seem to be where people last themselves and found themselves where rituals of life are acted out very far away from the home, far away from civilisation, not too far that you couldn’t feel its effects and that’s what I began to explore.
How George Shaw’s work is influencing my project:
I decided to research George Shaw as he captures council estate scenes very well. Although his work is very realistic, I find that there are similarities in some of the housing/architecture where he grew up as there is in Leicester. There are a lot of council estates in Leicester that are similar which I find interesting. The vast amount of detail that George Shaw captures in his work demonstrates a high amount of skill but I am not a realistic artist. However, I like to incorporate a sense of realism into my work with which Shaw’s work could factor into. I am pulled in by the fact that you can tell what time of the day it is in Shaw’s paintings which again demonstrates a lot of skill, he definitely knows what he’s doing.