Steven Shearer works primarily in painting, as well as in drawing, print, sculpture, and collaged found photography. He regularly conducts internet image searches and has created an archive of more than 63,000 images, creating a visual lexicon around portraiture and the human form. The images presented here are appropriated from Shearer’s personal archive and include both photographs purchased through eBay as well as those found in print and online. Through the sustained act of looking and searching over several years, the artist connects the iconography in these found images with depictions of different canonical styles and representation throughout art history.
The reclining and sleeping figures presented on Shearer’s billboards recall the poses found in religious paintings and sculpture, wherein bodies appear to be in states of ecstasy or seem to defy gravity, as if they are floating, having been released of their earthly bonds. By virtue of giving way to their physical desire for sleep, the figures have unintentionally invited passersby to observe them at a heightened level of vulnerability and intimacy. In mining the internet and eBay — the most public of forums — for images of private moments and again making them public, Shearer offers a subversive and poignant commentary on the ways in which so many banal moments of our lives in contemporary society are made accessible for public consumption.
The Arbutus Greenway Billboards are generously supported by the Audain Foundation