Shelby Shadwell’s Eery, Contemporary Approach to the Sublime
On the one hand, they are photorealistic representations of spaces and objects, rendered with extraordinary precision. On the other hand, they are so dense and dark in their accumulation of pigment that they appear almost monochromatic, and indeed often depict monochromatic surfaces, objects, and scenes. Comparable to artists such as
Working on paper that can reach sizes of more than six and a half square feet, Shadwell carefully constructs a dense layer of charcoal, which he proceeds to erase and rebuild in a long process, developing the highlights and shadows in his
More abstract works by Shadwell include drawings such as Untitled 12 and Untitled 15 (both 2011), which depict what seems to be crumpled black paper or plastic. The subject is merely a jumping-off point, however, for complicated formal examinations in grisaille, using the kind of abject, violated surfaces that Parrino and Violette have used to mark a particular boundary for abstraction. Shadwell complicates that critique by making an exacting replica of such rude forms, yielding an image that is simultaneously abstract and photorealistic.
Other works focus on objects that suggest decay and disorder, such as those in a series called “AUNIVERSAL PICTURE” (non-universal picture). Auniversal Picture 3 (2012) is more recognizable and morbid than those depicting trash bags and the like. Reminiscent of Damien Hirst’s fly-covered canvases or
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