Installation view, Steven Shearer, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2005
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to announce a solo show of Canadian artist Steven Shearer, born 1968. The last time Shearer’s work was seen in Zurich was in the “Breathing the Water” group show two years ago, where he was represented with a large-scale wall installation.
His work spans a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, photo collage, sculpture and installation. His ostensible focus is on found image material depicting youthful rock fans and their homes or long-forgotten teen stars and their advertising products.
Shearer collects a large part of his material from the Internet. In this way, he has assembled a huge archive made up of images that were always intended for publication. What Steven Shearer does to them is to bring them in an art context. Displaying this flood of images in photo collages like ‘Boy’s Life’, he examines the interrelations between autobiography and stereotype. As used in his works, these images become ciphers for the acceleration of the visual universe.
Among the works by Steven Shearer at Galerie Eva Presenhuber are new drawings and paintings that also draw on heavy metal and the glam rock scene of the 1970s. They include a new series of silverpoint drawings. Such highly traditional techniques are valued by Shearer because they slow down the viewer’s gaze, concentrating it on the special qualities of handmade things. And the handmade is also what Shearer focuses on in his screen-prints on canvas. The starting-point for these works is provided by social research studies conducted in the 1960s. Children were asked, for therapeutic or educational purposes, to respond to modern art that was shown to them by channelling their creative energy into drawing and painting. Shearer examines these image worlds in works like ‘Geometric Healing’. By choosing the names of well-known artist for the titles of the individual pictures, he comments on and questions a somewhat dubious therapeutic approach.
Two visual universes that have their origins in widely differing motivations make for a startling juxtaposition: fanzine-style cult on the one hand and modernist imagery used as educational material on the other. This lays the foundation for the anthropological and autobiographical themes. All Shearer needs to do is to follow up on them. Being himself part of this configuration, he manages to open up a fascinating subject area. And with his works, he starts writing a history that has never been written: the contrast between high and low seems to have become obsolete – which is precisely what makes Steven Shearer’s artistic approach so stimulating.