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Jim Shaw: Rather Fear God

Shaw paris

Rather Fear God, an exhibition of the work of Jim Shaw (BFA 1974), is on display at Praz-Delavallade in Paris through May 21.

Many of my art related dreams are a mocking commentary on the world and my place in it. This Dream Object, containing miniature versions of all the Dream Objects to date could be seen as a capstone to the project, or a sort of dare from my subconscious to actually grind out all those little things, or as a micromocking of things in themselves. The one new object in the pile is the figure of the Whore of Babylon astride the beast with seven heads and ten horns. This version was from a 1967 psychedelic Kelley/​Mouse poster, (typically featuring an image from some decadent turn of the century Art nouveau painting) I had as a teenager, long before I knew anything of the Whore of Babylon. I have never found the original painting and don’t know who the artist was. 

In Revelations, Babylon is closely tied to the material world, the buying and selling of things. That anti-materialist strain in Christianity (along with other religions) fights in my core being, as well as our culture, with the sheer inspired lunacy of our collective creativity, which manifests in a state of manic over productivity, the results of which are both thrilling and awful. There is a schism in my own relations to material objects (i.e. I collect/​horde all kinds of vaguely useful stuff, mostly images, yet I find the pursuit of materiality a bit less disgusting than John The Revelator or Bin Laden do) that I think is a reflection of that in the culture at large (such as our love of big budget Hollywood films in which our attachment to material goods is derided or obliterated). 

At the beginning of this Dream Object project, I envisioned a single show in which all the objects were piled in a gallery, like the detritus of a storm, surrounded by a series of comic panels based on the Jerry Lewis/​Dean Martin movie Artists and Models in which Jerry’s dreams come true, which would become a story about Salvador Dali and his P.R. coming true to the detriment of his art, finally becoming an EC horror comic about a workaholic artist who continues to work in his dreams, finally a zombie/​slave to his art, but as the years involved in the production wore on, this goal became unattainable, or perhaps I just thought the idea was weak. From one angle the sculpture is a different version of that pile concept, minus the comic/​commentary; from another it’s like the salt cellar of Benvenuto Cellini, a little decorative object into which so much skill and energy has been thrust it confers a status on the emperor who possess its extravagance.

— Jim Shaw, June 2008

Jim Shaw: Rather Fear God
April 2 – May 212016

5, rue des Haudriettes 
75003 Paris