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Shay Culligan Serigraphs and Paintings

Shay Culligan is an outspoken Irish-born Boston-based visual artist who refuses to participate in the official Art world, though he laughs that he’d also never be invited. Shay’s criticisms of Art world elites & their compliant critics have probably ensured his blacklisted status, something he suspects, but cannot prove. His thesis suggests that Art World elites control the Art narrative while championing mediocrity, which they peddle for vast sums to stupid wealthy people while they also dismiss all remaining artists because they don’t factor into this elite cabal’s lucrative agenda. Bolstered by sycophantic critics the elite Art world mantra is very rarely questioned by a public made up of easily programmable sheep. Shay refuses to sell his own original works, and has turned down some tempting offers since announcing his stubborn edict in 2013. He mocks the perceived notions of genius surrounding those whom he refers to as the overrated sacred cows of (modern) Art history: Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp, Modigliani, Rothko, Basquiat, etc. Shay claims that for centuries the reputations of specific anointed artists are carefully spun and manufactured by industry insiders who care nothing for Art, their main goals being control and personal enrichment. Combative as ever, Shay’s dismissal of today’s so-called celebrity art stars is equally pronounced: Koons, Emin, Hirst, Hockney, Scully, and Murillo, each of whom Shay claims to be lacking in technical ability, and teetering on contrived reputations designed to fleece naive collectors. He confesses to harboring genuine respect for skillfull representational painting, which he admits is rarely en vogue, attributing much of its establishment disdain to fear and jealously. Shay respects hard working galleries who market emerging artists to the upwardly mobile middle classes, but its not a route that he plans for himself. Although daunted by being personally shut out of today’s Art market bubble, Shay nonetheless declares victory by virtue of the fact that he still creates Art at a prolific rate, the originals of which he often destroys—once they’ve been photographed—rather than one day allow them to fall into the hands of the high end dealers whom he disparages: “they dismiss me now, but would gladly profit from my legacy in the future.” Paranoid, maybe, Shay’s audience is social media, that’s where his reputation gets tossed around, hence all sorts of feedback both positive and negative, and the occasional royalty for electronic reproductions which he gladly concedes. Originally a painter in oils and acrylics, he practiced boring (his word) realistic portraits and scapes until he took on serigraphy, where he silkscreen printed his photographic collages onto card and canvas, his subject matter hard to pin down. Often a mixture of urban, glamorous, and colorful, the viewer is left with a sense that modern life is busy, exciting, complex, and chaotic. This medium took him to a new level of partial abstraction that had not surfaced in his paintings. Inspired by his photogenic Russian wife and model Marina, the muse who features in much of his work, Shay refuses to explain his narratives, insisting that the viewers “catch up and figure it out for themselves.” Now back making portraits in oils again his painterly output in this traditional medium is unrecognizable from his busy silkscreen printed work, but Shay refuses to be drawn into the usual profile where an artist’s output, medium, and subject matter must be consistently predictable and recognizable to the viewer. “Catch Up” being his prevailing mantra. You can see more of his serigraphs at Shay’s website.

–Javier D.

Shay Culligan
Shay Culligan

–Shay Culligan


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6 thoughts on “Shay Culligan Serigraphs and Paintings

  1. I love this man’s steadfast integrity and talent as an artist. His refusal to bow down to and placate the disingenuous, superficial bullsh*t that runs rife in the art world is also to be admired, whether you like his work or not.

  2. Shay needs to chill out. I admire his obstinate stand against the stuffy Art establishment, but it only serves to reduce the size of his potential audience. He ain’t bluffing about refusing sales, I offered him the equivalent of 2 monthly mortgage payments for one of his artworks, he refused. He didn’t even blink! The swine.

  3. Jay, I don’t care if you offer me the equivalent of 2 years of mortgage payments, I’m not selling my originals to you! Also, pandering to the visual Art establishment is no guarantee of increased exposure. Swine.

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