by Ariadna Zierold
Since the 1970s, Jim Shaw has created a vast body of work spanning diverse media and reference points. Shaw’s work mines the essentials of American culture, from comic books, pulp novels, and album covers, to vintage advertisements, movie posters, and noise rock.
Originating from these sources, the work often features recurring characters including himself, his friends, fictional superheroes, politicians, and film stars. Combining text and the painted figure with objects and drawings from his unconscious, Shaw’s works consistently illustrate purposely bad puns, while twisting politics, religion, and belief into one long dream sequence.
Shaw focuses on over-arching themes of failure – fallen heroes, collapsed economies and political figures, and the idea of sin and doomsday predictions. The centerpiece of Entertaining Doubts is a series of large-scale paintings that Shaw began in 2004, utilizing old theatrical backdrops that he cuts apart.
Turning painting into architecture, these works essentially function as political cartoons, populated by figures such as Barbara Bush, 20th-century religious prophet Aleister Crowley, and Dan Quayle, with themes ranging from the seven deadly sins and the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the great deluge.