Outbound with the In-Crowd

Shag returns to Australia taking jetsetting whimsy to a whole new level in Outbound with the In-Crowd, his seventh solo exhibit at Outré Gallery. Departing on an around-the-world voyage, Shag travels with us on an adventure of mid-century splendor, where islander life thrives, cocktails rule, and the world is teaming with wildlife from our favorite childhood memories.

The centerpiece and highlight of Outbound is a giant six foot map of the world as seen by Shag. According to Shag it was something he had intended to create back in 2001 for Supersonic Swingers.

“At the time, I just didn’t have the confidence or capability to create it, but 11 years later, I realized I had progressed enough as an artist to make such a thing,” says Shag. Like a busy page from a Where’s Waldo book, there’s more to take in than the eyes can digest at first glance. The world’s most recognizable destinations and landmarks are all there, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, India’s Taj Mahal, the Cristo Redentor in Rio and Easter Island’s Moai head sculptures, to name just a few. The map wouldn’t be complete though without the appropriate signature cocktails of the world, like the Moscow Mule, Singapore Sling, Japanese Slipper and of course the world famous Manhattan. Additionally, there are some very cool symbolic figures and mythological creatures. In North America you’ll find a Native American totem pole, an Arctic igloo and the ever elusive Big Foot. On the Asian continent there’s a 26 legged Chinese dragon, a kneeling geisha girl playing a Shamisen, and a Bengal tiger. In fact, every continent has something symbolic to find, even down to the penguins driving a snow mobile in Antarctica and the shrunken heads in the Amazon.

Outbound also features several larger original paintings set in various well known cities across the map, like Paris in “Yes, I Dated Picasso,” where a photographer is capturing a pair of women in a Parisian bar with a portrait of Picasso on the wall. There’s also the familiar Capital Building, a distinct Hollywood landmark in the painting “The Casting Agent.” In “Sharif Don’t Like It” (which happens to be lyrics from The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”), there are three flight attendants dancing on a balcony in a Middle Eastern city. And there’s the very vibrant “The Original Owner,” set in Sydney with the famous Sydney Opera House in the background. A very well dressed Aborigine from the Outback has attended the house party with tribal shield in hand.

Over the years, Shag’s style has evolved into capturing more architectural details. His early paintings were more two dimensional with less detail in the architecture and buildings. But as time progressed, according to Shag,Eventually floors, walls, windows with views, stairs, different levels, sunken seating, waterfalls, and ceilings appeared.  Now the architecture is one of the most fun parts of painting right now – I get to design rooms and spaces, almost like an architect.” This is most evident in his most detailed and largest painting of the show, “The Secret Fishing Spot”, which happens to be an exact replica of the Featherston House designed by renowned Australian architect Robin Boyd.

Outbound also features twelve smaller 8×10” paintings, all of which feature an “outbound” plane on the runway, with a greeting from the airline’s flight attendant. “Flight 33 to Buenos Aires Now Boarding” features the stewardess in her Pan Am uniform with hat, scarf and bag donned with the vintage Pan Am logo.

Other airlines featured include long-gone PSA in “Flight 68 to San Francisco” and KLM in “Flight 42 to Amsterdam”. Additionally, Shag has captured other major cities in each of the small paintings like Moscow, Paris, Lisbon, Bermuda, Bangkok, Dublin, London, Miami and of course Sydney.

To see highlights of the show, and to visit some of Shag’s older paintings of global destinations, you don’t have to be outbound to Australia, simply order the new edition of Supersonic Swingers, the new release with 50% more content than the original book from 11 years back. The limited edition hardbound version also comes with a serigraph from the show, but with an edition of just 150, there won’t be enough for even the “in-crowd.”

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