Jim Shaw (American, b.1952) is an American artist whose style is characterized by the use of a wide range of media and visual imagery. Since the 1970s, Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings, and advertisements. Shaw has also consistently turned to his own life and, in particular, his unconscious, as a source of artistic creativity. Providing a blend of the personal, the commonplace, and the uncanny, Shaw’s works frequently place in dialogue images of friends, family members, world events, pop culture, and alternate realities. Often unfolding in long-term, narrative cycles, the works contain systems of cross-references and repetitions, which rework similar symbols and motifs, allowing a story-like thread to be perceived.
Oism, Shaw’s most recent, on-going project, contains a narrative core and ironically challenges the norms of art. Marking Shaw’s attempt to create a functioning religion, complete with its own narratives, totems and traditions, Oism is drawn from a profound degree of research, initiated in the early 1990s, into the history of American religious practice, and finds inspiration in the Messianic cults active in America’s Bible belt. The creation and study of Oism has fueled a wide range of artworks-cum-artifacts, and includes paintings, photographs, sculptures, collages, posters, films, and musical instruments. Shaw lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.