George Shaw The School of Love 2015 2016 Enamel on canvas 46 × 55 cm Credit Line: © Courtesy: The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London
My Back to Nature is a series of new paintings and drawings made by George Shaw whilst in residence at the National Gallery.
These work resonate with the artist’s experience of walking in the forest near his hometown as a teenager, with the feeling that ‘something out the ordinary could happen at any time there, away from the supervision of adults.’
Based in a studio located in the heart of the National Gallery, George had swift and unrestricted access to the Gallery to explore the collection out of hours and at his leisure, draw from the pictures, observe the public, and find inspiration for his own work. The result is predominantly woodland landscapes that investigate the clash of cultures; classical stories linked with the traces of similar, timeless behaviour in the modern world; and the portrayal of religion.
In 2014, George Shaw was invited by the National Gallery to become the ninth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist. Shaw began regularly visiting the National Gallery in the 1980s, when he was still a teenager, bringing a sketchbook to draw from those paintings he found most interesting.
The work in this exhibition has been inspired by various mythological woodland landscapes by artists such as Titian (1490-1576) and Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). Shaw is interested in how their stories – often featuring violence, illicit sex and drunkenness – have parallels in the way that people might behave in the woods today, when they think they are unobserved. This is complemented by Shaw’s interest in Christian imagery, especially how landscape artists of the past often alluded to the Crucifixion in their depiction of trees.
George Shaw was born in 1966. He graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1998 and in 2011 was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, for his paintings of suburban landscapes set around his childhood home of Coventry. These were all painted in Humbrol enamel paint, a medium that he still uses.
Exhibition organised by the National Gallery, London.
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