Steven Shearer: Exhume to Consume

Text by Josee Drouin-Brisebois

Adopting and elaborating upon stylistic repertoires drawn from the history of figure painting, Steven Shearer makes formal and thematic parallels between art history and the iconography associated with various contemporary subcultures including their modes of dissemination such as fanzines and image shrines on personal websites. He is interested in how contemporary society unconsciously echoes specific manners of appearance that have been explored by historical movements or schools. Seen in this light the resemblance between the long, flowing hair of his metal-head rockers and the tresses of Pre-Raphaelite heroines is not fortuitous. Central to Shearer's work is his ongoing compilation of an archive of thousands of images culled from magazines, songs and the internet. In his paintings, text-based works, sculptures and photographic compilations, these sources function generatively as they are combined and recycled across his works. By showing us aspects of popular culture anachronistically, Shearer exposes the false hierarchy of high and low art and prompts us to consider the differences between the cultural industries and the art world.


Publisher: National Gallery of Canada

Artists: Steven Shearer

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Softcover

Dimensions: 7.5 × 10.25 inches

Pages: 256 pages

ISBN: 9780888848888

Retail: $55

Status: Available

Steven Shearer

Canadian artist Steven Shearer (b. 1968) has developed a painting practice that weds canonical art history to the contemporary moment, specifically its more plebeian or subterranean expressions. His work, which also includes drawing, assemblage, sculpture, and installation, deploys a wide range of references as well as a vast archive of historical and contemporary found images.

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