Skoto Gallery Presents Kendall Shaw
Skoto Gallery present paintings by eminent New York artist
Back Seat at the Drive-in
September 8th – October 15th, 2011
The reception is on Thursday, September 8th, 6-8pm. The artist will be present.
SKOTO GALLERY 529 West 20th Street, 5FL.
New York, NY 10011 212-352 8058
Behind the Trellis, 1992-96, mixed media on paper, 44×72 inches.
‘Back Seat at the Drive-In,’ is a selection of paintings that have been taken from an ongoing body of work done by Kendall Shaw over a long and productive career. The show is concerned with the artist’s personal response to the body, its interactions, and kinetic and social expression. Love, desire, passion, and playfulness rule our intimate responses to each other; all these things are referenced in Shaw’s paintings. There is quiet regard, as in a 1965 painting in which a few simple, but clearly rendered lines on warm-colored unprimed canvas evoke the soft female presence of Frances, the artist’s wife. Then there is the Dionysian bacchanal of forms that animate an ‘abstract’ painting from 1994 such as “Sex And The Hot Toyota.” The ecstatic vibrancy of notational line and color in “Hip Hop,” completed in 2002, puts the active figure back at the evocative center of painting. Rather than the cooling down effect as occurred in contemporaneous minimalist abstraction and an intensifying ‘painting is dead’ despair, Shaw concentrated the visual into an erotically sensitized skin of paint across the live body of canvas.
The artist’s innate love for people in all their physical diversity, personal differences and complexity, includes the life-affirming drive toward natural expressions of sensuality and sexuality in art as in life. Disregarding art world cynicism, his touch energizes the potential of abstraction in a drive away from the anomie that prevails in much current art. In formal terms, Kendall Shaw, whose paintings have long married a humanistic foundation with formal abstraction and representation, defines a new term—surabstraction, that provides an over- arching concept for his work— one that would help us understand his drive toward a metaphoric ‘realness’ within the arena of abstract form:
People ask what kind of paintings do you make. Humans love to classify, and that was the base of Aristotle’s writings as he saw new plants and animals on his journey through India with the conquering Alexander. If I answer that I make abstract paintings folks become satisfied, because that classification is familiar to them. The problem with classification is that there are rules and descriptions. The classification becomes a box with restrictions. A painting can be a metaphor for what seems to be real in life. I want a painting to echo life as much as possible, to be real in itself.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Shaw left behind his advanced studies in science and a burgeoning research career, to engage in an active and affirmative life amongst a seminal group of progressive artists. With teachers, friends, and colleagues who were at the driving center of classic American modernism such as Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis, George Ricky, Ida Kohlmeyer, and Mark Rothko, the young scientist was directly immersed in an advanced stream of artistic thought and accomplishment. In 1961 he was Invited to teach at Columbia University School of Architecture, and has lived in New York ever since.
Over the latter half of the twentieth century, the eighty-seven year old artist has had an exemplary career not only as artist and teacher, but also in the field of stage design. For example, his design for a John Bernard Meyers produced musical, with words by Gertrude Stein and music by Ann Sternberg was at the Astor Place Theatre in 1972. The play was later performed at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Grace Rainey Rodgers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Music was recorded and released by Polydor Records.
Kendall Shaw’s most recent solo shows include his 2011 idiosyncratic interpretation of Bible stories, ‘Let There Be Light’ presented at the Narthex Gallery & Living Room Gallery of St. Peter’s church in mid-town Manhattan. Both the Ruskin Gallery/East Anglia University, Cambridge, England, and the Ogden Museum for Southern Art, in New Orleans, presented retrospectives in 2007.
While this is his first solo exhibition at Skoto Gallery, Shaw was represented for more than thirty years by fabled gallerists such as Tibor de Nagy, John Bernard Meyers, and the Lerner-Heller Gallery. His work is now part of many private and public collections around the world. A brief list includes: Peter Ludwig, Aachen and Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Nagaoka, Japan; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; Orlando Museum, Florida; IBM Corporation, New York; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; J.P. Morgan/Chase Manhattan Bank, NY.
Carl E. Hazlewood