Tim Shaw

Kenneth Armitage Foundation

Far off almost anyone’s London contemporary art map is Kensington, the posh residential neighborhood where the only galleries are the sort that might be expected to exhibit small bronze figurines—like this foundation, sited in the former studio of the prominent postwar sculptor Kenneth Armitage. And small bronze figurines, by the little-known midcareer sculptor Tim Shaw, do occupy the top floor, which made the installation hidden at the back all the more astonishing.

Shaw has spent part of his two-and-a-half-year residency here building Casting a Dark Democracy, 2007–2008, a gargantuan, more than sixteen-foot-high sculpture of a hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner, and it is shockingly powerful. Shaw’s classical training allowed him to craft this giant (made of steel, barbed wire, and black plastic) to pitch-perfect recognizability. After Richard Serra’s flat and disappointing drawing of the same

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