Chris Shaw
New paint­ings: The Madon­nas of Sci­ence, plus selected other work.

Cur­rently on exhibit at The San Fran­cisco Museum of Mod­ern Art — Caffè Museo
Until June.
This is a cafe exhibit, admis­sion is free!

SFMoMA
151 Third Street (between Mis­sion + Howard)
San Fran­cisco, California

Open daily (except Wednes­days): 10:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
Open late on Thurs­days: until 9:00 p.m.

SFMOMA.org

Madonna of the Particle by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of the Par­ti­cle
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Dark Matter by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of Dark Mat­ter
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Madonna of the Squid by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of the Squid
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Madonna Science 2 by Chris Shaw

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Madonna of the Magnet by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of the Mag­net
60″ x 84″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Madonna of Evolution (Simian Vanitas) by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of Evo­lu­tion (Simian Van­i­tas)
60″ x 84″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Madonna of the Microscope by Chris Shaw, 2013

Madonna of the Micro­scope
60″ x 84″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

 

Madonna Science 1 by Chris Shaw

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Madonna of the 40oz. by Chris Shaw, 2010

Madonna of the 40oz.
36″ x 48″
Acrylic & Cur­rency on Can­vas
2010

 

Madonna Kalashnikov by Chris Shaw, 2012

Madonna Kalash­nikov
30“x40“
Acrylic on Can­vas
2012

 

Madonna of the Suicide Vest by Chris Shaw, 2012

Madonna of the Sui­cide Vest
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2012

Madonna of the Particle

Madonna of the Particle sketches - Chris Shaw, 2013

This paint­ing is inspired by the recent sci­en­tific con­fir­ma­tion of the Higgs-Boson “GOD” par­ti­cle, the sup­posed sub-atomic build­ing block that gives all mat­ter mass. The name itself is enough to war­rant the cre­ation of a Mod­ern Icon. In this piece, I cre­ated a geo­met­ric foun­da­tion using shapes, curves, and ratios found in nature, and fit the fig­ure into it. The icon is also based on the types of geom­e­try found in sub atomic par­ti­cle col­li­sions, it will fit snugly into the actual image of a par­ti­cle col­li­sion which cre­ated a “God” par­ti­cle. While the paint­ing is not intended as a black-light piece, it does take full advan­tage of the flu­o­res­cent spec­trum, metal­lic col­ors, and unveils phos­pho­res­cent effects in total darkness.

 

Artist State­ment

I’m not sure exactly where my fas­ci­na­tion with Madon­nas was born, but I’ve loved Icons of all kinds for a very long time.

As an artist I’m intrigued with the the way icons present their ideas — an eas­ily under­stood, blunt cen­tral image jux­ta­posed with deep sym­bol­ism and cryp­tic geo­met­ric foun­da­tions. Icons also have a rea­son for exist­ing, they are con­vey­ers of information.

The mod­ern icons I cre­ate also con­vey infor­ma­tion, it could be a sci­en­tific con­cept, a polit­i­cal state­ment, or a pop-culture ref­er­ence. Regard­less, each icon has a story and a rea­son for existing.

In this body of work I use the Madonna as the vehi­cle to lit­er­ally carry the ideas I’ve cho­sen to por­tray. The titles are straight for­ward. How­ever, under­ly­ing and obfus­cated by the image is a rigid geo­met­ric base, over which the Madonna icon is con­structed. The geom­e­try within this base is a rid­dle to deci­pher as are many of the sym­bols within.

I’ve mainly learned about hid­den geom­e­try and sym­bol­ism in art by decon­struct­ing an art­works com­po­si­tion, then research­ing what I find, some­thing I like to do for fun. Golden ratios, spi­rals, and fibonacci sequences are eas­ily found in many types of art, but espe­cially deeply woven into icons. How and why this geo­met­ric lan­guage was used fas­ci­nates me, it ulti­mately led to cre­at­ing my own icons with their own meanings.

Ortho­dox icons are a favorite style to appro­pri­ate. Real ones can often be quite abstract as the image becomes sub­servient to the geom­e­try used in the com­po­si­tion, I try to emu­late this ideal. The “Madonna of the Par­ti­cle” and the “Madonna of Dark Mat­ter” both con­cern the recently dis­cov­ered Higgs-Boson par­ti­cle. The geo­met­ric base used within each image con­tains nat­ural ratios and curves that ref­er­ence the sub-atomic par­ti­cle col­li­sions which led to the “God Particle’s” discovery.

West­ern icons, in par­tic­u­lar Ital­ian Madon­nas, are another deep influ­ence in my work. In the large trip­tych pan­els I’ve ref­er­enced and riffed on the art­work of Bellini, Bot­ti­celli and Ambro­gio de Pre­dis as base foun­da­tions for the images. Pre­dis’ “Girl with Cher­ries” (1495) has trans­formed into the “Madonna of Evo­lu­tion” now incor­po­rat­ing a both human and ape skull with repeat­ing helix motifs as both a “van­i­tas” por­trait and an icon. The “Madonna of the Mag­net” recon­fig­ures Bellini’s “Madonna and Child” (1480) into an icon devoted to my love of mag­nets. It is painted with iron and cop­per based pig­ments and com­posed using the sweep­ing curves found in mag­netic flux.

Each paint­ing com­mu­ni­cates its secrets in var­i­ous ways.

Chris Shaw
April, 2013

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Madonna of Dark Matter

On April 28, 2013, in Art, by Icculus

Madonna of Dark Mat­ter
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Can­vas
2013

This paint­ing explores the con­cept of Dark Mat­ter. Dark Mat­ter (and Dark Energy) are yet unproven sci­en­tific the­o­ries which help explain the 80% of our uni­verse which we can­not see. While Dark Mat­ter and Dark Energy are invis­i­ble to us, we can detect their exis­tence from the effects of their gravity.  I find the var­i­ous the­o­ries about Dark Mat­ter inter­est­ing and some­times ridiculous.  The real­ity is that nobody knows what it is.

I like to think that what­ever Dark Mat­ter is, its heavy.  It could also exist in another dimen­sion — hid­den in the folds of our “nor­mal” space/time.  It prob­a­bly fol­lows the same gen­eral “rules” which other mat­ter does,  but we should be care­ful not to assume too much.

With these notions in mind I cre­ated this Madonna icon with deep, drap­ing folds which cra­dle a heavy object.  The object is my rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Dark Mat­ter as a par­ti­cle, mod­eled on an armillary.  Armil­lary spheres were used in antiq­uity to model the heav­ens and the move­ments of plan­ets, con­stel­la­tions, etc.  They were fan­tas­tic pieces of tech­nol­ogy for their time, how­ever, as geo-centric mod­els they cre­ated a real­ity based on belief, not fact.  Galileo’s story comes to mind.

I use the armil­lary as a cau­tion­ary metaphor to remind us that the­o­ries often describe our­selves more than reality.

The paint­ing itself is very dark, cre­ated with deep glazed hues of metal­lic blue con­trasted with cop­per, sil­ver, 24k gold, and black metal flake.  The use of metal­lic col­ors and under-bases means that this paint­ing changes depend­ing on the angle at which its viewed. The smooth glaz­ing of the fig­ure is fur­ther accen­tu­ated by a richly tex­tured background.

This painting’s blue color is about the exact oppo­site of the flu­o­res­cent orange hues used in the Madonna of the Particle.  How­ever, the sister-paintings share the same com­mon geom­e­try, ratios, and curves found in sub-atomic par­ti­cle col­li­sions as well as our larger universe.

Chris Shaw
April 2013

The Madonna of Dark Mat­ter and other work by Chris Shaw, cur­rently on exhibit at The San Fran­cisco Museum of Mod­ern Art — Caffe Museo, until June 2013.  151 Third St., San Fran­cisco, Ca.  Open every­day except Wednesdays.  Cafe exhibit is free.

Dark Matter by Chris Shaw, 2013

Chris Shaw Dark Matter layout

Armillary Sphere

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