GABRIEL SHAFFER AND THE CLEAR HEADED KILLING JOKE
By RC Miller
In September of 2007, Gabriel Shaffer and I participated in a joint exhibit combining his paintings with my poetry, allowing both art forms to react with and against the other. We called it ‘Animal Returns,’ and as the title suggests, we embraced the experience as a journey through the guts, the teeth, the eggs and semen of raw creation. For me the result was startling. Without prior knowledge of the subject of my poetry, Gabriel somehow conjured direct images of individuals, memories, and nightmares from my mind as if they were his own. His paintings explicitly illustrated the ghostly presences that haunt and bless my existence. How Gabriel was able to fully envision my abstract thoughts, and raise fantastical paintings of deep and beautiful instinct I will never comprehend. This uncanny ability is his gift, and I was the lucky recipient of its power.
Gabriel Shaffer is that rare artist who fiercely explores his own vision and refuses any easier life as a compromise. Gabriel’s talents are born out of an endless reservoir of ideas and a necessity to share what he cannot control. He has no choice but to paint, and generously offers his viewers realms beyond immediate understanding. We are arrested by his three-headed feathered reptiles wearing evocative bone masks of erotic woman and lively mystics. We dwell in his rigid cities awash in biblical comedy, onionskin shadows, and the gore of a gallbladder burst. Sometimes a childlike innocence invades his canvas, providing an incubator of relief while outside red blizzards burn the ocean to crust. Through his intense paintings, drawings, and collage, Gabriel Shaffer reminds us that freedom from the known is the only way to survive.