In the world of contemporary ceramics, Richard Shaw is the master of trompe-l’oeil sculpture. He has developed an astonishing array of tech- niques, including perfectly cast porcelain objects and overglaze transfer decals. By combining the commonplace with the whimsical, the humor- ous with the mundane, Shaw captures the poetic and the surreal with the sensibility of a comedian.
Shaw is one of the most respected and collected artists in contemporary ceramics. He came out of the San Francisco Bay Area art scene in the late 1960’s and he continues to add to his skills and appropriate from mass culture. He has developed a vocabulary of found objects that form intimate still life sculptures, complex figures, and personally referential assemblages. He brings life to the detritus of the studio, as a cartoonist animates the page.
I try to stand back and be the absent arranger, creating a poem about a person using humor, irony, and elegance. Sometimes the subject is actually me, as in the watercolor box jars, where I reference my role as the artist, using images from my sketchbooks. The human aspect of the still life or assemblage acts as a person memori- alizing their identity using the objects from their personal narrative. The narrative itself reveals their tastes, pastimes, intellectual pursuits, sins, habits good and bad, obsessions, etc. Identifying as another person in the arrangement of objects allows me the freedom to make unconscious decisions and to act spontaneously, to experiment and take chances, and to let the conflict of self-imposed rules go.