london

George Shaw, Scenes from the Passion: The Cop Shop, 1999–2000, Humbrol enamel on board, 17 x 20 7/8".

George Shaw

South London Gallery

George Shaw, Scenes from the Passion: The Cop Shop, 1999–2000, Humbrol enamel on board, 17 x 20 7/8".

George Orwell once gloomily prophesied that the future of England would be in the “light industrial areas and along the arterial roads . . . everywhere, indeed, on the outskirts of great towns.” This depressing vision of modern suburbia has been given a powerful expression in the paintings of George Shaw, who for the past two decades has taken as his subject the unlovely Tile Hill postwar housing project in the British city of Coventry, where he grew up. Human presence is limited to graffiti, littering, and traces of vandalism; the mood is one of bleak melancholy. Depictions of painfully ordinary residential streets appear alongside views of the surrounding nature in scenes that bring to mind Philip Larkin’s observation, in a poem about his own upbringing in Coventry, that “nothing, like something, happens anywhere.”

Some forty of Shaw’s paintings were gathered together for the

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