The landscapes in George Shaw’s paintings all conceal stories but in this case the narratives are Shaw’s own childhood memories. For the series Scenes from the Passion, Shaw worked from photographs taken within a half mile radius of the house he grew up in. The area is unremarkable and, in Shaw’s paintings, unpopulated. There is a bleakness here but also perhaps a sense of anticipation. Though the area is very specifically the territory of Shaw’s childhood in a way it feels like the paintings depict a kind of everytown. There are certainly scenes here that I can match against my own suburban London upbringing.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled (Bus Fire), 2002 (from the series Twilight)
Given the cinematic feeling of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hollywood series, it seems like a good time to look at Gregory Crewdson’s representations of American suburbia, a place that feels oddly familiar from films. In Crewdson’s suburbs, all is not well. The detached houses and neat front lawns might suggest otherwise but these are places where dystopian nightmares are more likely to be played out than the American dream. Of course, this is also familiar from the movies – think Blue Velvet – it’s just that here we have to fill in the gaps ourselves rather than watching the dream unravel on screen.