The New Museum‘s latest exhibition, “Jim Shaw: The End Is Here,” takes the audience into a new and eye-opening experience through corruption, imagination and religion. The whimsical exhibition had a realist and tragic perspective of society. There are three levels dedicated to Shaw’s artwork: the second floor is a homage to his paintings that depict the Seven Deadly Sins; third floor is more about religion, especially, Christianity; and the fourth floor is a presentation of his iconic third dimensional, Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky (2009).
I started the exhibition reverse chronicle order because the museum’s Sky Room is only open Saturday and Sundays. After, the Sky Room, the fifth floor had two exhibitions of Wynne Greenwood: “Kelly” and Histories of Sexuality. Those ones were interesting but were not appealing as Shaw’s exhibition. There were a few pieces I enjoyed from Greenwood like the busts she sculpted made of various material. The busts are haunting and entertaining because they have unique qualities of human emotions. Here are some photos of some of my favourite pieces:
Now, the fourth floor and the finale of Shaw’s exhibition was a dream. It transported the audience to a dystopia with characters from history and pop culture. There was a sense of fear and comfort because Shaw’s depiction of them was comical. The perception of making fun and showing the harsh reality of what society has been come now is a reflection of the past. Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky is the type of piece that society has ignored and brushed aside at times. Sadly, the artwork speaks the truth itself.
Then, the third floor is about religion, specifically pointed to Christianity and there is this one room that looks like Amoeba Record Store. There are banners, paintings, photos and books Shaw made and inspired him with his artwork. There was a specific banner, which was a timeline of the Catholic Bible and had information about Genesis to Deuteronomy. Also, there were busts of men and the devil was inserted in the middle. It was clever to put the devil there because surrounding him were diverse ethnicity of man. Probably, Shaw had meant there is a devil inside/outside everyone and he is a heavy influence on society without anyone knowing. The label of cultures do not matter anymore because of the devil.
However, this is where the second floor artworks differ because there are different correlations of the Seven Deadly Sins. For instance, the main painting is called Seven Deadly Sins (2013) and it is a relationship diagram between all of the sins. Each main sub-painting was satirical and amusing. Towards the bottom right corner, there is even a monkey painting. Another amusing painting is The Gate and Alfred Hitchcock’s head the main feature. There are pearls coming out of his mouth and a McDonald’s bag filled with hamburgers accompanies him from behind. Gluttony is represented and Hitchcock eating pears could signify how our society glamorizes obesity.
Here are photos of the paintings:
As for the other drawings and paintings; there were comic strips questioning people’s beliefs like if they were like a child/teenager. Shaw uses this as adults still trying to figure out things themselves like Jean Paul Sartre’s play, No Exist. There is also this deep psychological meaning where his art shows were all mad at times and everyone lives in a world of chaos. Chaos is beauty, similar to Charles Baudelaire’s poem, Fleurs de Mal: To the Reader. These can even tie with the new season of American Horror Story: Hotel because the people die at the hotel cannot leave their own hell.
It all depends on the person’s interpretation and I highly recommend going to the New Museum. The Shaw exhibition lasts until Jan. 10, 2016 and make sure to plan a visit before the Sky Room is closed too!