Voyeur

Shag’s 2008 exhibition, Voyeur, featured 20 new original paintings, 10 being a quite large 24 x 48 inches, and all shared two constant elements throughout – voyeurism and fish. The use of fish throughout each of the paintings could be a way to contradict the Christian meaning of abundance and faith against the perceived sin of voyeurism. Pagans, though, view the fish symbol as a sign of femininity and fertility, and there is certainly no lack of the feminine figure in this series of paintings. To Buddhists, the fish symbolizes happiness and freedom, and there certainly seems to be an air of both in each of the works as well. Many also have a voyeur theme, with peeping “Todds,” “Teds,” and “Tims,” along with women in black dresses wielding telephoto-lensed spy cameras.

The backdrop to each of the larger paintings feature mid-century homes, all with modern floor to ceiling glass windows, a signature Shag element when painting mid-century homes. Fully exposed, the Ikler-like dwellings reveal the usual suspects, men in tailored suits, women overdressed for the occasion (or underdressed), and random animals, like raccoons, Shag cats, and this time around in Voyeur, fish, both living and dead. And not to completely abandon some of the “Vintage Shag” elements, The Little Fish features Polynesian roots throughout, with tikis, tropical foliage and women in leis, poised on an island that only Shag could dream up.

An equally appealing visual element each of the larger paintings share, and a vital component of tying it all together, is the wonderful use of foliage and landscape. Shag has the amazing talent of beautifying trees by simplifying them down to Eyvind Earle-styled silhouettes, accenting them with Mary Blair whimsy and defining them with classic Shag sharpness and color use. While some of the mentioned artists could certainly be influences, there’s no question that Shag has a style all his own. The paintings are given additional depth with some featuring simple silhouetted mountain ranges and ice-capped volcanoes, while others include water  elements like swimming pools and sprawling lakes.

Each of the 10 smaller paintings all share the same constant theme: Peeping Toms, or as Shag has exposed, by first name, Peeping Todds, Tims, and Teds. Maybe these deviants would have moved on had these lounging ladies closed the blinds or turned off their cameras.

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