Jim Shaw presents a selection of 62 recent O-ist Thrift Store Paintings, faux found objects that reference the artist's invented religion O-ism. Described as a parallel-universe Mormonism, O-ism dates back to nineteenth-century America. While its originary myths are centered around an unnamable goddess symbolized by an 'O', the "Book of O-ism" and its revelations have spawned a mid-west movement which encompasses a powerful fraternal organization with secret rites and mythologies. Shaw has already staged and documented an elaborate fraternal "initiation ceremony", complete with uniforms and musical instruments, and is developing several other groups of O-ist-related artworks. The collection of paintings in this exhibition was supposedly gleaned from O-ist-operated thrift stores throughout Nebraska and Iowa. The ambiguous and anonymous authorship of these works holds an essential psychological aspect.
The "O-ist Thrift Store Paintings" express Shaw's interest in the proliferation of visual and cultural material as generated by the dogmas of his pseudo-religion.
O-ist Thrift Store Paintings runs concurrently with an exhibition of the artist's work at the Swiss Institute in New York, on view September 14 through October 26; the exhibit there will focus on the historic tableaus of a fictional O-ist abstract painter.
A recent retrospective of the artist "Everything Must Go" was on view at Casino Luxembourg, MAMCO in Geneva, and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati; his "Thrift Store Paintings" were shown at the ICA, London. Shaw's work has been represented in major shows of Los Angeles artists such as "Helter Skelter" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, "Performance Anxiety" at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and "Sunshine and Noir," which originated at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe and the United States. His work was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial and in this year's Biennial of Sydney, Australia. Shaw attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the California Institute of the Arts and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Marnie Weber and their daughter.
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