Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Chinese Contemporary Artists Talk Culture Using Materials - Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Allure of Matter: Material Art From China

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Through January 5, 2020

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Song Dong, Water Records, 2010 Video Projection, (copyright) Song Dong,
Photo courtesy of Pace Gallery
For over 25 years artist Liang Shaoji  has used live silkworms to spin silk onto various objects and states “I am a silkworm”.  Highlighting the interconnectedness between humans, animals and nature with silk is rooted in the Chinese psyche and with legends that connect silk-making with the creation of Chinese civilization. In the exhibition The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, twenty-one artists spanning four decades experiment with unconventional materials which serve as symbols of meaning for their work. For these artists, the material is the message and operates as a conduit to clues about Chinese contemporary culture.

Since the 1980’s, Chinese contemporary artists have used an array of materials:  black cola ash, cigarettes, human hair, cement, wood, thread, used clothing, plastics, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, nails, silk, and more. Common to all these artists is the rejection of established art forms and traditional materials, and the drive to invent new artistic languages. Thirty-five artworks using these materials take the form of painting, sculpture, installation and performance.

Many of the artists included in this show are well known in the Chinese contemporary art world, but not in the U.S. Artist Ai Weiwei, probably the most well known to Americans, includes his Tables at Right Angles(1998) where he employed a team of craftsmen using 16th century woodworking techniques to join two tables from the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) without glue or nails, placing them at right angles, reconfiguring them, and depriving them of their original functionality. Weiwei questions the cultural value of antiques and artworks in contemporary society.

Fascinated by its destructive and political implications, Cai Guo-Qiang experimented with gunpowder and developed a method to control and contain explosions to create gunpowder paintings.

Gu Dexin, who began experimenting with plastics while working in a plastics factory, created an installation (Untitled,1989), including plastics melted to abstract compositions, while also arranging used clothing and materials.

Gu Wenda’s United Nations: American Code (2018-19) uses human hair from all over the world to create his installation taking the form of a “house”, with the wish to create harmony by mixing cultures. This work, commissioned by the participating museums for this exhibition, is an ongoing project inspired by the politics and histories of various countries.

Jin Shan’s Mistaken (2015), created a sculpture of wood and plastic, the top being a bust of a heroic Communist worker which appears to melt away in fine strings and the body is made of wooden slats derived from old demolished houses. Shan shares the relics of the Cultural Revolution imagery with the memory of China’s nostalgic and fragmented past.

Lin Tianmiao’s Day-Dreamer (2000), uses white cotton threads, fabric and digital photography to create a colorless self portrait suspended from the ceiling. Having been taught to wind thread into skeins, she appropriates this domestic practice into her work since the 1990s.

Liu Jianhua’s work Blank Paper (2009-12) mimics two sheets of paper hanging on the walls but is actually made of fine porcelain, using pure white clay, unglazed, and fully exposed to the viewer in its fragility suggesting they fill the “empty spaces” with their thoughts. Adjacent to this piece is an installation of 8000 black porcelain flames(Black Flame 2016-17) suggesting a rapidly growing fire flickering across the gallery floor.

As part of her Wonderland Series, Ma Qiusha created Black Square (2016), a “painting” made of cement, nylon stockings, plywood, iron and resin. In a mosaic-like pattern, Qiusha creates a kind of tapestry and pattern both in fabric and stone in shades and sheens of black, alluding to generations of women who easily discarded nylons.

Song Dong’s Traceless Stele (2016), a sculpture of metal stele and a heating device invites viewers to write their own messages on the stone using brushes and water which ultimately disappear. Historically Steles were used as memorials in China for centuries, featuring carved inscriptions to relay information about people or events commemorated. Dong’s interest in the Daoist idea of impermanence using water’s translucency and formlessness is featured, as viewer’s brush-writings disappear quickly. His adjacent video Water Records (2010) plays simultaneously displaying how brushstrokes disappear as the artist completes each drawing with water.

Jin Wang’s The Dream of China: Dragon Robes (1997) made of pvc plastic and fishing line are based on the Chinese Imperial robes and theatrical costumes of generations ago, and bear encoded symbols of five-clawed dragons representing the imperial house and other symbols. Wang has replaced robes of rich silks, gold thread, and brocades with suspended translucent white plastic robes – each with memories or shadows of the original garments.

Xu Bing’s several drawings, collages, scroll and installation uses tobacco as material and subject, exploring the history and production of cigarettes, global trade and its impact on Chinese culture. Emphasizing the U.S. – China connection, Xu uses raw tobacco leaves, cigarettes, cigarette packaging and other marketing materials documenting the global economy  and Chinese art history. 1st Class (1999-2011) is an installation consuming an entire large gallery room floor in the shape and color patterns of a tiger rug – all made of thousands of actual cigarettes, systematically arranged and glued into a “rug”. There is a pervading scent of cigarette tobacco as viewers circle the room to view this work.

Zhang Huan’s Seeds (2007) is a painting on canvas created from incense ash, charcoal, and resin. Huan has worked with ash since visiting the Longhua Temple in Shanghai, where he saw ash from burned joss sticks or incense used in ritual prayers. He sees the ash as connected to the spiritual process and the” hopes, dreams and blessings” of those who visited the temple. Studio assistants helped sort the ash by shade and coarseness before Huan applied it to the canvas.

Chen Zhen, He Xiangyu, Hu Xiaoyuan, Peng Yu, Sui Jianguo, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhan Wang, and Zhu Jinshi are the balance of artists whose works are included in this show. The Allure of Matte: Material Art From China is the first exhibition of its size and scope documenting Chinese contemporary art on the west coast. The artists use a myriad of meaningful materials to discuss the complex history and current themes that document life for people in contemporary China.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Spirit of Flowers Appear - Roland Reiss's Paintings at Oceanside Museum of Art

Roland Reiss
Unrepentant & Unapologetic Flowers Plus Small Stories
Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside CA

Through September 8, 2019

8. Fleur du Mal II (#621)
Acrylic on canvas   68" x 52"

*All images courtesy of the artist and Diane Rosenstein Gallery

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Over the course of my life, I have sought out nature in all its forms including mountains, forests, hills, oceans, rivers, lakes, big skies and sunsets, across several countries – all with the expressed purpose of encountering the power and spirit of the universe.   I knew I would find it in these places.  As I walked through Roland Reiss’s Flower paintings(2007-present), these same feelings emerged –awe, wonder and the spirit of an exuberant artist who wants to ‘show’ rather than  ‘tell’.  This is evident in the fact that Reiss requested that no identifying information be placed beside each artwork. – no painting titles, sizes, mediums etc that we typically see elsewhere that art is exhibited. We are left on our own to observe and discover what these paintings communicate to us.

Flowers are the vehicle which Reiss uses to express color.  ‘Color’ is not an element of his works, it is the primary language. As a master technician in art-making, these expressions come across as easily as speaking a native language is to us. Being in the exhibition space in the presence of these paintings is reminiscent of southern California skies after a storm when the light is sharp, clear, bright and fresh.  The color combinations are vivid, intense, glowing and full of emotion. He wants us to feel his joy and to find our own.

Reiss plays with figure and ground in his compositions –in most of the paintings the imagery appears to float within the spaces of the canvases, and in others the ground is implied – where we may see a few flower pedals sitting alongside a vase. Once again, he wants us to ‘fill in the blanks’. The context or reference points are often missing. Reiss also manipulates spaces within each of his paintings. In some, the flowers appear to be three dimensional while others are simultaneously flat. Collapsing and expanding spaces add another dimension which challenges what a painting can be.

Another group of works appear to have vertical structural supports of stems for his flowers around and within which there are layers of tiny but discernible images of architecture – skylines of cities, capitol government buildings, museums, as well as monkeys, dancing people, butterflies, birds, geometric and abstracted shapes, and more. The imagery floats around like passing thoughts. Bouquets of flowers become worlds within worlds.

While most of the paintings have flat precisely crafted surface paint, there is a selection of those with a deliberate pattern of thick, textured sculptural brushstrokes. Multi-colored brushstrokes also appear as imagery within others works.

Its as if Reiss is holding a conversation about painting in his works.  He defies convention while charming us with the amazing range of color variations, varieties of flowers, imagery and general “eye candy”.  The standard compositions, color relationships, two and three-dimensional spaces, and the nature of and use of brushstrokes – the traditional  tenets of painting - all come into question in how they are played out.

Another portion of Reiss’s exhibition are the Small Stories -  sculptural tableaux which the artist is widely known for, and which he calls “three dimensional paintings”. These clear acrylic boxes contain cinematic miniature scenes that play out varying social, political and cultural scenarios referencing contemporary life, and where it is left up to the spectator to comprehend. 

In the title of Reiss’s exhibition: Unrepentant & Unapologetic Flowers, he addresses the notion of painting flowers as a disenfranchised subject. In one of the several personal statements about his work posted throughout the show, Reiss notes that the art world is generally dismissive of flowers as subject matter. It also goes along with the notion of beauty as a simple, trivial, superficial and irrelevant subject in art.  Seeing Reiss’s exhibition proves this wrong – that flowers (and beauty itself) grabs us humans at a deep unconscious level, one of the spirit – and there is nothing more important to contemporary society than to lift the human spirit and soul – and Reiss’s paintings do exactly that.

je t’aime en noir (#946)
oil and acrylic on panel   30" x 24"

F/X: In Search of Truth (#46)
Mixed media
24.5 x 24.5 x 14 inches
Unrepentant Flowers: Red (#995)
oil and acrylic on panel  30" x 48"
Sunflowers at Night (#672)
Oil and acrylic on canvas   68" x 52"
Unrepentant Flowers: Starry Blue
Oil, acrylic and ink on panel   30" x 24"

Monday, May 20, 2019

Argentina Artist Guillermo Kuitca at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Guillermo Kuitca
Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles
Thru August 11th

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Guillermo Kuitca, The Family Idiot 2019 Oil on canvas in artist frame
92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in Triptych: 92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in overall©
Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & WirthPhoto: Gonzalo Maggi

Guillermo Kuitca’s paintings, works on paper and sculpture encompass both public and private psychic spaces. Architecture, blueprints, theater seating charts and maps are the structural forms from which he creates his works. In his first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, Kuitca presents several distinct types of work. The Family Idiot (2018-2019) series are a group of oils on canvas that are framed in wood – some are diptychs and triptychs which sit on an eye-level table while others hang on the wall. A combination of abstraction and figuration, these works are mostly darkened tonated reds, grays, and black – the paintings take us into parts of rooms and places with no reference points. They feel like dislocated personal psychological dream-spaces which are both haunting and beautiful and where the imagery can be difficult to discern. At times it seems we are peering into windows as voyeurs and viewing intimate and unclear experiences at a distance.

The smaller mixed media works on paper are untitled but refer to specific performance halls around the world – Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Palais Garnier, Sydney Opera House, Oslo Opera House and others. Kuitca manipulates these seating charts to distort, meld and collapse physical spaces and as in his paintings, these works can be disorienting – contrary to the usual focus on a theater’s stage, the main event is the distortions of the empty seats identified by seat numbers. Each of these multi-colored strongly hued works take on a different character and are at times, more like drawings than paintings. Some retain their chart-like structure while others are fuzzy explosions of colors with shapeless forms that twist, bend and drip.

A recent body of work Missing Pages (2018), is a series of 18 canvases linked together in a grid pattern, taking its structure from the layout of a printer’s proof. The imagery in these oil paintings contain both figurative and geometric shapes, where connections to one another can be simultaneously both identifiable as well as confusing.

Retablo (2016) is an installation work which is accessed up a set of stairs into a darkened unfinished gallery space. Lit from within, this free-standing large oil painting on wooden panels references Cubism in its geometric divisions of carved up spaces and its neutralized dark greens, browns, reds, and grays. Set inside a large vertical deep wooden box, it appears as a stage, or backdrop. Altar-like in its lighted inner space, there is a brown road painted in the center leading into the narrowing distance to a seemingly imaginary place.

Kuitca who lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina uses his experiences with theater, philosophy and literature to create paintings, mixed media works, installation and sculpture that take viewers out of their comfort zone, and disrupts and challenges us to question where we are in space and time.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Masterful, Powerful Images by Charles White Trace African American History - LACMA Retrospective

Charles White: A Retrospective
Resnick Pavillion, LACMA
Through June 9th
Charles White, I Have a Dream, 1976, lithograph on Arches buff paper, 22 1/2 × 30 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cirrus Editions Archive, purchased with funds provided by the Director's Roundtable, and gift of Cirrus Editions, © The Charles White Archives, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Charles White unites masterful skill as a draftsman, painter, printmaker and muralist with a deep passion for portraying the life and struggles of African Americans. Spanning four decades to 1979 when he died, White’s expressive figurative works of powerful images beginning with the labor movement of the 1930’s, and the issues of race, inequality and social politics remain relevant today. This retrospective is loosely organized in chronological order and arranged by city where White spent his time: primarily Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. On view are approximately 100 drawings, paintings, lithographs and photographs as well as audio recordings of occasional lectures White gave at LACMA while he lived and taught in Los Angeles. This retrospective, curated by Ilene Susan Fort, Curator Emerita of American Art includes 13 works in LACMA’s permanent collection. 

With sometimes startling sensitivity, White’s works exude a depth of feeling and intimacy that only someone who has personal familiarity and direct experience can depict. Some of his earlier paintings appear influenced by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, rendering images of the labor movement as well as the U.S. Communist Party in which White was politically active focusing on racism and social inequality. 

Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington (1943, pencil on illustration board 37” x 27.5”) is a study for the mural Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America. ,” located at Hampton University in Virginia –  a depiction of a historical scene spanning centuries, showing black Union soldiers marching alongside the folk singer Leadbelly, captured in the midst of performance, while George Washington Carver works away in his lab.

General Moses (Harriet Tubman) 1965 ink on paper 47” x 68” and I Have a Dream, 1976 lithograph on paper  22.5” x 30” highlight a few of the historical figures depicted in black and white monumental images that capture our attention. Aside from these two works, there are many more with historical reference to important African Americans  - both men and women, young and old, from the arena of politics, entertainment, social activism, to anonymous street figures.

White is one of the most important American artists of the mid-twentieth century whose expressive figures communicate feelings of dignity and grace, and a remarkable combination of beauty, form and scale. His universal subject matter continues the dialogue about the history and culture of African Americans.

Charles White, General Moses (Harriet Tubman), 1965, ink on paper, 47 × 68 in., private collection, © The Charles White Archives, photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries 

Charles White, Sound of Silence, 1978, color lithograph on white wove paper, 25 1/8 × 35 1/4 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.314, © The Charles White Archives, photo © The Art Institute of Chicago

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hammer Museum Exhibits Dirty Protests:Selections from the Collection

Mike Kelley   City 000     mixed media installation(partial view)    2010

Dirty Protests: Selections from the Hammer Collection
Organized by Chief Curator, Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmendi, Curatorial Assistant
Through May 19th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

The major thread tying this exhibition together is that the works are a combination of  recent museum acquisitions along with some of its permanent collection that have never been shown before. Works on paper, paintings, video, sculpture and drawing in a mix of mediums from 40 international and established multi-generational artists are on view. For museum visitors, navigating this exhibition can be both confusing and intriguing.  Upon first glance, the provocative title of the exhibition Dirty Protests (oil painting by Iranian artist Tal Madani, 2015) misleads the viewer.  Madani’s work which sometimes represents male subjects in a baby or child-like manner addresses serious cultural themes, but is only one theme represented in this show. Installation piece City 000 (2010) by Mike Kelley which references the Superman story, employs rock-like geological structures as a base for a shrunken city. Lit from within, this group of transluscent multi-color resin bottles arranged as a city scape is set up high, atop a black massive-sized rock with a staircase the viewer can climb to examine.  Mark Bradford’s painting I Don’t Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything (2015), representative of his mixed media collages made from billboard segments, flyers and graffitied stencils reflecting his urban community stood out as well as webcam video sickhands (2011)  by millennial artist Petra Cortright,  who sometimes uses webcams to create short self-reflective examinations of feminine self-worth and identity using software to enhance, manipulate and distort images of the female form.
Ghanian artist Ibrahim Manam’s ALIJA X (2015-16) sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks is one example of several works in this exhibition that use a myriad of materials combined in unusual ways to contextualize their ideas. Organized by Chief Curator Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmedi, Curatorial Assistant, Dirty Protests is on view through May 19th.
Mike Kelley, City 000, 2010. Mixed media. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased through the Board of Overseers Acquisition Fund with additional funds provided by Chara Schreyer and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn.

Mark Bradford, I Don't Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything, 2015. Mixed media on canvas, 132 x 120 in. (framed; 335.3 x 304.8 cm), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with partial funds provided by Linda and Bob Gersh and Angella and David Nazarian.

Ibrahim Mahama, ALIJA X, 2015-2016. Sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks, 90 9/16 × 114 9/16 in. (230 × 291 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with funds provided by Beth Rudin DeWoody. ©Ibrahim Mahama.

Tala Madani, Dirty Protest, 2015. Oil on linen. 76 x 79 x 1 3/8 in. (193 x 200.7 x 3.5 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase.

Mika Tajima, Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care), 1, 2014. Thermoformed acrylic, spray enamel, aluminum. 78 × 78 × 32 in. (198.1 × 198.1 × 81.3 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Gift of Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.
Petra Cortright, rgb,d-lay, 2011. Webcam video. Running Time: 24 seconds. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Courtesy of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Cortright

Monday, November 19, 2018

New Associate Curator, San Diego Museum of Art Talks About Her Passion for Art

Interview with Regina Palm, new Associate Curator, American Art
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego

Regina Palm   Associate Curator of American Art, San Diego Museum of Art

Article by Cathy Breslaw

We don’t typically think of a visit to a museum as being a defining moment in a person’s life. However, for Regina Palm who was recently named the new Associate Curator of American Art at the San Diego Museum of Art, it set the course of her career. While on an elementary school field trip at age 12 to The Huntington near Pasadena, California, Palm was overwhelmed with the beauty of the museum buildings, grounds and the art collection. It was there and then that she decided she wanted her future work to be  at a museum.

Though first in her family to work in the arts, her mother exposed her to her hobby of sewing, painting and carving and her father to his passion for studying Nose Art, the not expressly approved decorative designs painted on the fuselage of planes during World War 2.  It was her love of writing that eventually led Palm to study Art History, Anthropology and Museum Studies at California State University, Chico where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree and then a Masters Degree in Art History at San Jose State University. 

While studying at Chico State, Palm fortuitously became aware of the conceptual work of contemporary artist, Barbara Kruger who uses black and white photography overlaid with declarative captions to comment on American social and political culture.  Influenced by her father’s interest in propaganda art and the works of other influential women artists like Kruger, Palm began to focus her studies on women artists, especially woman muralists at the end of the 19thto the 20thcenturies. Formerly considered a masculine form of artistic production, womens’ issues of gender and sexuality, and murals became central to Palm’s study for her PhD in Art History from Birkbeck College, at the University of London. 

Prior to her current curatorial position at the SDMA, Palm worked at the Cincinnati Art Museum with 60,000 works in their collection, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth Texas, with 350 works in their collection.  

Though identifying herself as a feminist art historian, Palm notes that as Associate Curator at the SDMA, her role is focused on the needs and wishes of the greater San Diego community in all its diversity. She is looking to help continue the growth of thought-provoking exhibitions, and to highlight minority artists as well as those that have previously not been given their due. 

When asked what she will contribute to the San Diego Museum of Art, Palm commented on her enthusiasm, passion and infectious joy and love she feels for her work to oversee the American Art collection. In addition, she feels a commitment toward helping to provide top-notch programming and exhibitions, as well as contributions to collaborations with museum colleagues.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tim Shaw's Beyond Reason Holds a Mirror to Our Humanity

Tim Shaw
Beyond Reason
San Diego Museum of Art
Through February 24 

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Tim Shaw       The Birth of Breakdown Clown,         2015 – 2018
Robotic figure with motion and sound; foam, steel, and aluminum
Figure: H: 80” W: 32.5” D:21”
Wooden platform H: 8ft W: 4ft D: 4ft

 Irish-born artist Tim Shaw’s Beyond Reason show at the San Diego Museum of Art is his debut exhibition in the United States.  Deputy Curator for Curitorial Affairs, Anita Feldman, comments in the exhibition catalog: “ In the daily lives of many of us, there is a sense that we are cocooned from the outside world. We read of terrorist events on our mobile phones, see them in distant-and not-so-distant places on T.V.  Shaw’s work draws us closer to the reality of these conflicts and dares us to engage with them, challenging us to ask questions about society’s role or silent complicity.”

Shaw’s works include six immersive installations.  Upon entering the museum spaces Shaw’s works occupy, the overall very low lighting throughout creates an alternative context and brings us into the metaphysical and psychologically charged world of Shaw’s making.  The first work we encounter is Middle Worlds,(1989-present) a large sculptural installation created with cement, steel and lead. Produced over twenty years’ time, it also includes small figures in bronze and terracotta arranged upon a tall vessel that is part altar, part pinball machine while beneath it stalagmite-looking forms reminding us of geological time. The figures appear to be in front of a large theater stage, or entrance to a grand ancient building, including symbols of various centuries and ages, where Vulcan bombers and satellites appear adjacent to mythological, Christian and secular symbols. There is a sense of eeriness and gloom, and a suspension of time.

We next encounter Mother, The Air is Blue, The Air is Dangerous (2014). This immersive room installation has its roots in Shaw’s seven year-old childhood memory in Belfast when he witnessed a bombing in a restaurant along with his mother and sister. Having occurred on the historic Black Friday, 1972 when the IRA set off over 20 bombs over the entire city, Shaw recreates this low-lit deep blue lighted scene with over-thrown chairs and tables, food trays suspended randomly in the air while photos of victims lie on tables and the sounds of intense sirens are heard in the room. Shadows of people running across streets are projected onto the walls of this chaotic scene. As viewers, we share a terrorizing moment with Shaw’s experience.

The next work encountered is Defending Integrity from the Powers That Be (2017). This mixed media automated sculpture and sound installation includes two life-sized figures created from metal armatures, old clothes, pillows and stockings. The male and female figures are facing one another while rocking back and forth upon curved ski-like metal forms. Their insides are ripped open revealing wires, and old radio speakers and their mouths are stuffed with money preventing their ability to speak. Highlighting their feelings of  helplessness, perhaps it is fear, greed, or complicity but Shaw seems to be saying that silence has its price.

Soul Snatcher Possession (2011-2012) is the next immersive installation we encounter which includes eight life-size figures in a low lit fabricated room with well worn damaged walls, a fireplace and  lit with naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. When entering through a long corridor ,we push open an old beat up door and see four figures huddled in distinctive positions around a crowded central hooded figure appearing to be harassed or intimidated. With rough textures of clothing haphazardly sewn, and worn shoes, these figures were created with metal armatures, old clothes, pillows and stockings.  One figure is of a blind man in the corner with a cane searches the area, while a female figure reclines against another wall with a stocking stretched over her face, and a syringe close-by on the floor. A nearby man is watching her, and in another corner is a kneeling male figure as if in prayer or asking for help. For the viewer, there is a claustrophobic feeling inside this room as well as a visceral intensity that is both disturbing and provocative. These unsettled feelings provoke questions – Are we confronting evil or fear or both, or our own humanity and the limits of our civility?

Alternative Authority (2017) is a life-size mixed media sculpture of a woman, tarred and feathered and tied to a lamp-post. Created with metal armature, pillows, old clothes and stockings, her face hidden from view, and is slumped downward and covered with tar and tons of feathers. This work references 1970s’ Ireland when the IRA punished women who fraternized with police or British soldiers  and publicly humiliated them in public squares. Other women and community members were thought to take part in this public shaming and the resulting psychological and physical scarring for life.

Shaw’s last work is The Birth of Breakdown Clown (2015-2018) which is a robotic life size naked figure with motion and sound, made of foam, steel and aluminum.  This performance piece is a “robot” that moves its hands, arms, head and eyes while presenting a monologue speaking to his “audience”. During the 15 plus minutes speech the robot comments:  “We are no different. All just wires, soft flesh hung onto hard form. Impulses running down the those stringy bits. And when the life force leaves the form, and the water evaporates, we are dust. You and me….” In this work, the viewer becomes the subject. After the monologue the robot encourages viewers to ask questions and a short conversation ensues. Shaw searches for the dialogue between where Artificial Intelligence begins and the place where human beings reside – the space between humanity and machine.

Peering underneath the hood of humanity, Shaw holds up a mirror to our own behavior and psyche in often strange and repugnant ways. There is nothing “pretty” about Shaw’s work. It’s beauty is compelling, in how it reveals our potential self-awareness gained from witnessing  these discomforting installations. With some exceptions, viewers are invited to be in close proximity to the disturbing situations and the grotesque figures he has created. A combination of mythical, political and metaphysical, we are drawn into both historical and contemporary time with Shaw’s large scale works. Some works parallel  today’s experiences of physical and psychological terrorism.   Shaw asks whether we speak up or remain silent, becoming complicit in the effects of our politically charged world, and challenges us as we grapple with how Artificial Intelligence will co-exist with humanity.
Tim Shaw           Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous,         2014
Immersive gallery installation (Personal effects including, coats, bags, shoes and
photographs. Chairs, tables, revolving trays, projected images, sound and haze)
Room Dimensions H: 10ft x W: 31.5ft x L: 36ft

Tim Shaw         Soul Snatcher Possession,          2011-2012
Immersive gallery installation (Eight large life-size figures in low lit fabricated room with
corridor; old clothes, pillows, stockings, on steel armatures).
Room dimensions (including corridor) H: 8 ft x W: 21ft x L: 23ft
The Birth