Abbot Hall Art Gallery launches the national tour of George Shaw: My Back to Nature following its presentation at the National Gallery, London. 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 and Poussin. 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.
Abbot Hall has a national reputation for presenting the work of artists deeply engaged with the landscape tradition. To accompany this exhibition there is also a display of three works from the National Gallery’s collection, selected by George Shaw specially to coincide with his show at Abbot Hall. Each work inspired Shaw’s residency and creative output during this period.
“George Shaw is the kind of painter Britain does best, a close observer who on this evidence has the sharp eye of a Freud or Hockney. He’s still in his 40s. Can’t wait to see his work when he is 80.” ---Jonathan Jones, The Guardian
“It casts light on Titian. It casts light on the National Gallery. It even casts light - of a murky, Coventry intensity - on what art is supposed to do. Add all that up and you have a profound achievement.” ---Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times
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, rather than the traditional oil.
A 15 minute film about George Shaw and the making of his new paintings is shown continuously in the projection room at the end of the exhibition.