Steven Shearer

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Steven Shearer
Born 1968 (1968)
New Westminster, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian
Education Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Known for painting, photographer, drawing, collage

Steven Shearer (born 1968) is a contemporary artist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has exhibited internationally, including the Tate Modern in London, The New Museum, the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York, the Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, and the Renaissance Society in Chicago.[1] Nationally, he has shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. He is represented in London, New York, Turin, and Zurich.


Shearer' photography, drawing, painting, and collage tend to focus on youth, alienation, aggression, melancholy, and heavy metal. In Artforum, Matthew Higgs affectionately called Shearer the "bastard offspring of the Photo-conceptualists."[2]


Shearer's subject matter centres on youth, alienation and barely repressed violence. It is a world inhabited by death-metal rockers, 1970s prefab boy bands and teen stars, glam-rockers and guitar-wielding teenaged suburban dreamers who−we know from their bad hair and bad skin and shabby domestic surroundings−will never make it, no matter how often they practise "Stairway to Heaven."[2]

Deborah Campbell. “Steven Shearer: Bastard Offspring of the Photoconceptualists.” Canadian Art. Fall 2005.

Shearer's practice, which encompasses photographic displays, drawings and paintings, lies somewhere between the anthropological study and the obsessive archival trawl. His soft pastel renderings and collage assemblages of amateur images culled from the internet transform the would-be tough image of male metalheads into a delicate, quietly evocative ephebic melancholia. The classic conte-crayon-like earthy, oversaturated palette he employs in many of these portraits don a kind of antique art-school life drawing model glow and expressionistic framework (the fluid lines of, say, Toulouse-Lautrec's backstage homages or Munch's anxious compositions might come to mind) to his anonymous, beautifully tressed characters, whose often averted gaze emphasises their objectification as well as their own absorbed self-possession.


Lupe Nunez-Fernandez. “Steven Shearer at Ikon, Birmingham.” Saatchi Gallery. Spring 2007.

Drawn to scrappily resistant forms of expression, Shearer celebrates the anger, aggression and creativity that bubble beneath the surface of polite society. Like other Vancouver artists before him, he revels in the detritus of everyday life, associating discarded objects and degraded media with social outsiders. His mural, billboard, and poster poems inspired by scatological and blasphemous Heavy Metal lyrics and song titles present visions of the nihilistic sublime that would be disturbing if they weren't so entertainingly hyperbolic.[4]

Steven Shearer.” The Power Plant. Winter 2007/2008.


  1. ^ Steven Shearer at the Renaissance Society
  2. ^ a b Deborah Campbell. “Steven Shearer: Bastard Offspring of the Photoconceptualists.” Canadian Art. Fall 2005.
  3. ^ Lupe Nunez-Fernandez. “Steven Shearer at Ikon, Birmingham.” Saatchi Gallery. 2007-05-29.
  4. ^ Steven Shearer.” The Power Plant. Accessed 2009-006-31

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