Selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by Simon Baker
Chris Shaw captured a dark and spectacular vision of the Californian desert during the summer of 2013 while on a residency in Joshua Tree National Park. He took pictures in the early morning using a strong flash and printed at night in a make-shift darkroom in his bathroom, using an enlarger specially shipped from New York. In this bold and striking series of photographs, the joshua trees and various desert cacti are transformed into haunting anthropomorphic figures and dancing icons. The prints themselves bear the marks of the ad-hoc printing process, with bleeding edges, fingerprints, off-kilter frames and Shaw's signature hand-written titles.
Born in 1961 in Wallasey, near Liverpool, Chris Shaw studied photography at Liverpool Metropolitan College and at the West Surrey College of Art and Design at Farnham, graduating in 1989. He was taught by the likes of Paul Graham, Martin Parr, and Tom Wood, amongst others. Strongly influenced by Japanese photographers, from Eikoh Hosoe and Shomei Tomatsu in the 1960s, to Masahisa Fukase and Daido Moriyama later, Shaw developed a singular aesthetic, working predominantly in black and white when many of his contemporaries had turned to colour. Shaw’s rough and raw aesthetic is produced both by the manner in which the pictures are taken, and by editing and printing processes: using darkroom techniques to magnifies the effects of light, both intentionally and accidentally; and by writing directly on the prints with thick black pens.
His work is held in international collections including Tate, London and J.P Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Recent exhibitions include Chris Shaw and Daido Moriyama: Before and After Night Porter (Tate Britain, London, 2013), Life as a Night Porter and Weeds of Wallasey (Moscow House of Photography, Multimedia Museum, Moscow, 2014).