As John Baldessari has said, Jim Shaw taught him it was okay for his work to be creepy. Among Shaw’s diverse practice, the Dream Object series is one particular example of where the everyday becomes unsettling. Produced since the 1990s, each painting, drawing or sculpture is based on a work of art that Shaw has encountered in a dream. The series covers many styles of art, frequently naive or amateur ones, or drawn from pop cultural forms such as comic book illustrations or record sleeves.
As the title of this work suggests, the painting relates to life as an art student that has come back to haunt him. Whether it is a fantasy or memory, a fetid dream or disturbing nightmare is not clear, but fits within the framework of archetypal scenarios that confuse sexual, spatial and symbolic memories. As the artist has described: “I’ve figured out that the core of dream logic is that it’s an occult way of telling you something by not just lecturing you directly, but by showing you in a satirical way or a symbolic way with things that are formally similar but not exactly the same.”