Eric Shaw’s most recent paintings, presently on display at Yes gallery, consist primarily of medium to large scale abstract gouaches that explore the corruptive and creative powers of vision. Geometrically fractured humanoids, whose jointed limbs resemble the exoskeletons of arthropods, assume grotesquely erotic poses; competing for the viewer’s attention, they force their bodies into strange, contorted shapes in an attempt to seem appealing. Their stability is uncertain, as if they might break apart if not for the gaze that holds them together. One of these figures manages to escape on hands and knees, only to find that the bull whose attention it desires is nothing but a copy. In another part of this liminal, continuous world, a painting reaches out and grabs a pale pink thigh, connected to a body which offers it three oracular heads in return. To move beyond the limits of representation, art must copulate with itself.
Shaw’s visual vocabulary draws from myriad sources. One finds De Kooning’s Woman series filtered through the gouaches decoupees of Matisse, as well as reference to 80’s fetishism and the art brut of DuBuffet. His disarming use of color and obsession with intricate, swirling patterns has often garnered him comparison to the psychedelic art of the 60’s. Yet while Shaw’s referentiality may be deliberate, it always manages to attain a refreshing playfulness that withstands ostentation. These paintings can be cerebral, visionary, what have you; but they also happen to be quite fun.