Greenwich High School Students Draw Inspiration from Steven Shearer
March 23rd, 2017
The Brant Foundation was pleased to host Greenwich High School’s AP art class for a tour of Steven Shearer’s exhibition. Following the tour, students had the opportunity to use the space to work on their own drawings, inspired by Shearer’s artistic practice.
About Steven Shearer
Shearer’s work draws upon a visual lexicon of portraiture and representation of the body, often using found imagery that he collects and archives as source material. Through this process, contemporary imagery is distilled into the tradition of portraiture revealing affinities between various modes of figuration throughout history to the present.
Shearer consistently returns to the found imagery he collects to use as the subject matter of his collage works, which incorporate images lifted from various fan magazines as well as from the web. These references often reflect not only his own personal experience of growing up in the suburbs of Vancouver, but also a collective memory of the visual and verbal landscape of suburban and teenage alienation. The subject of Shearer’s collage works have ranged from metalheads to teen heartthrobs to prefabricated toolsheds. Three collage works will be in view, including Sleep II (2015), a large-scale triptych made up of found photographs of people asleep. Expressions of torment or ecstasy can be found in the manner of their sleeping bodies and faces, resembling those represented in religious paintings from the past. The historical tradition of statuary is evoked via found images of Leif Garrett in Bad Cast (2001), while Scrap #2 (2003), is composed of 132 works on paper ranging from original drawings to found printed material.
Shearer’s Poems also reference source material however much of the text is unique, having been inspired by titles and lyrics from Black & Death Metal songs. In these works white text is rendered on a black ground, as in the facade he created for the Canadian Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, to create monumental poems that convey overtones of illuminated manuscripts. In describing his works, which juxtapose “bodily, grotesque phrases” with the “austere graphic quality of the black and white graphics,” the artist points to an effect that is both “unreal and funny.” This exhibition will feature three series of Poems (Poems V, 2005; Poems XXV, 2011; Poems XXXIV, 2013), each consisting of seven drawings in charcoal on rag paper. Though some may find the poems deeply disturbing, there is also humor beyond the visceral impact achieved through their evocation of a Gothic excess and emotional barrier that protect a tormented core.