In the world of contemporary ceramics, Richard Shaw is the master of trompe-l’oeil sculpture. He has developed an astonishing array of techniques, including perfectly cast porcelain objects and overglaze transfer decals. By combining the commonplace with the whimsical, the humorous 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.
Shaw has referred to himself as the absent arranger, creating pieces that speculate on a presence — whether imagined, real, or auto-biographical — through elegant collisions of objects. The twist is that these assemblages are trompe-l’oeil objects, painstakingly realised through a process of casting in porcelain, glaze highlights and precise overglaze transfer decals. The still life arrangement takes on a poetic rigidity through process, the discarded nature of the objects amassing a larger narrative that reveals deeper habit or obsession.