George Shaw: My Back to Nature
at The National Gallery
until 30th October 2016
Contemporary artist George Shaw has been the National Gallery’s Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist for the past two and a half years. Based in a studio located in the heart of the gallery, Shaw has had unlimited and unrestricted access to the collection and the result of this residency is My Back to Nature, the exhibition now on in the Sunley Room galleries of the National Gallery.
Coventry-born Shaw has been a longtime visitor and fan of the gallery since his teenage years. The former Turner Prize nominee has responded to this two and a half year residency with an exhibition that has drawn on and further expanded his early love for the paintings of the Old Masters.
Titian’s Death of Actaeon was already one of Shaw’s favourite paintings from the days of the first visits of his youth, by the time Shaw had been installed as Associate Artist the National Gallery had acquired two more Titian works, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto. All three of these paintings have been powerful influences for the works in Shaw’s exhibition which explore elements of voyeurism, illicit sex and drunkeness.
The wooded environment that is the setting for Shaw’s paintings recalls many of the mythological scenes in the gallery’s collection and Shaw has said that woodland has always made him feel that “something out of the ordinary could happen at any time there, away from the supervision of adults.”
My Back to Nature has an other-wordly, haunting and at times highly irreverent quality and George Shaw has certainly made something ‘out of the ordinary’ in this great, and free, exhibition.
George Shaw: My Back to Nature is on at The National Gallery until 30th October 2016.
All photographs ©The London Art File