Laith McGregor

Laith McGregor's blue-Bic portraits have, for years, been distinctive for their quick-witted, humoured mode of characterisation. Reappraising the practice of portraiture, McGregor's new work searches for figuration, and narrative, across new media and genres.

For ‘Tall Tale,’ at STATION Gallery, McGregor traces new conceptual horizons outwards from his established drawing practice, without losing sight of his sustained interests in storytelling and characterisation. In his work, text and pattern have become methods of figuration in themselves: paths of access to the minds, or the stories, of the subjects of McGregor’s portraits. These most recent works search for character, subjectivity, and personal narrative in places of yet further abstraction.

McGregor’s most recent drawings reposition the project of portraiture within a trans-generic framework. When we turn our gaze toward the ‘subject,’ in this work, we might usefully look to the glints of landscape which appear, and then shrink back from us, in intricate ‘backgrounds.’ In Keeper (2021), for instance, a head lain sideways on its hard-slated cheek is connected to ambiguous symbols – a perfect, blinding white circle, what looks to be a coffee pot turned on its own head – through a thick network of branches. These branches themselves recede, in laced softness, into non-representational patterns; what story is to be read through this field of information, which stretches across portraiture, landscape, and putatively non-signifying pattern?

Figuration operates across media, as well, in this work. Ceramic vessels are laden with symbolic potential. Vessel (Sympathy) (2021), is soft, empathetic in its bulging middle, and tender in its downward-drooping handles. The vessel seems to gesture, or even to express an attitude as a face might. Clay is not mute, here, and nor must it really be nonhuman – indeed, it too might be able to render character, feeling, story.

EXHIBTION
Laith McGregor: Tall Tale
27 February – 27 March 2021
STATION Gallery, Melbourne

 

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