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George Shaw - Back to Nature

Today was probably the worst kind of day to traipse around central Lomdon; hot, sticky, humid. And there was little respite in what should be, in my opinion, cool, shady halls of the National Gallery. We came to see George Shaw's 'Back to Nature', the result of a two year residency at the Gallery. Shaw paints in ceramic - the sort of paint boys use on kit models. And the effect is lustrous. Some of his work echoes that of the photographer Tom Walker. George became known primarily when he was shortlisted for the Turner. His photolike pictures of suburban scenes seem to evoke a paradoxical nostalgia and suburban numbness. There is little to feel numb about in back to nature though - each picture is set in or is woodland; verdant and dark, and plenty of synonyms and symbolism of the objectified woman and the destruction of man. Tossed depicts a pile of torn up pages from a porno mag scattered on the dark soil. Where Shaw truly excels is in depicting trees as sinister; my husband said he'd never seen such scary looking trees since something about triffids and Dr Who - I don't know about that, I've never been a Dr Who fan. It's not that the trees were shaped like monsters - it's the atmosphere; menacing. Red riding hood is replaced here with a blue sheet or tarpaulin, which features in a handful of the pictures; the blue of the type most associated with the Virgin Mary. George Shaw is a remarkable artist. Go see it while you can.

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