Jim Shaw | National Gallery of Victoria Triennial, Melbourne, Australia

December 19, 2020 – April 18, 2021

More information on the exhibition

Since the 1970s, Jim Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings and advertisements. The artist began creating a series of mural works around 2004, using found theatrical backdrops on which he painted over the surfaces. Consumed by the build-up to the 2004 presidential elections, he created a body of work later grouped together as a solo exhibition entitled Left Behind (CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France, 2010). These vast paintings featured multilayered references to esoterica, conspiracy theory, trash culture, and his own fictional religion: Oism. These works expressed his unease with the social and ideological dominance of neo-conservativism, consumerism, and the Christian right in America.

Capitol viscera appliances mural 2011 is an oneiric vision depicting the obliteration of Capitol Hill, the seat of the US Government, by an eruption of molten meat overlaid with a floating matrix of domestic appliances, seemingly from the 1950s. The renderings of these appliances epitomise a golden age of American domesticity and consumerism. The tendrils and trunk of the "mushroom cloud" resemble a sinewy Banyan tree, a frequent motif within Shaw’s work as the Oist "tree of life."  

About the NGV Triennial

The NGV Triennial brings contemporary art, design and architecture into dialogue, offering a visually arresting and thought-provoking view of the world at this time. Featuring major new commissions and recent works that span geography, perspective and genre, the exhibition celebrates the work of some of the world’s most accomplished artists and designers, while also giving voice to emerging practitioners.

As creative disciplines become increasingly porous and interconnected, new systems, materials and technologies are rapidly changing the ways in which artists and designers can imagine and speculate on the future. Through a series of compelling presentations globally significant practitioners working at the nexus of art, design, science and technology, the NGV Triennial offers an inspirational platform to experience and consider how digital and emerging technologies are transforming the landscape of cultural production and industry. These projects reveal a new cultural paradigm where traditional silos have dissolved into an ever changing and accelerating landscape of creative practice.

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