“Fix your little problem and light this candle.” ~Astronaut Alan Shepard
Wainscott, NY – Tripoli Gallery presents Pace and Space, a solo exhibition by artist Laith McGregor. A series of new paintings were transported from the artist’s studio in Byron Bay Australia to Long Island’s East End. That said, the work has a transitory aesthetic —in a mystical and planetary way. His palette mainly consists of hues of blue, with expansive shapes and celestial resonance. McGregor’s physical, painted gestures move through each of the works, connecting them with an invisible thread, not unlike a constellation. Using words such as Séance, Twilight, and Wanderer (all 2023) as titles, we end up on an unexpected journey through the world he’s made on each canvas. It’s impossible to look at these paintings and not think of the sky, or an intrinsic interest in the ocean. The latter approaches and recedes from the shore, and similarly, McGregor uses his body approaching and receding from the surface.
While utilizing oil paint as a way to confront each surface, several paintings have been assembled with fabric overlay—oil paint rags, off-cuts from discarded works— painted, unfolded, and molded. Tie-dyed hammocks will also be included in the exhibition as an installation. The fabric feels personal and each composition, specifically in the Séance series, is minimal and purposeful, folded edges allowing the raw linen to play a starring role as the ground. McGregor has stated in his accompanying essay that Pace and Space reference the “action of pushing a basketball up the court at a fast pace while spacing the floor to create an offensive advantage for the team to move more efficiently.” He also inquires and references this very action as it may relate to humankind, “Could we move forward at a momentum while maintaining a nurturing distance?”
McGregor’s paintings seem to live out this statement. They are both close and somehow far away. His empty (unpainted) segments of canvas, almost function as sand, seen from above. The fabric is paint, or sky, or an expansive sea. Upon closer inspection, the triptych Dawn, Twilight, and Night transports us into a monochromatic jungle where two, thinly sliced white moons or a severed sphere have been drawn on top. It’s as if McGregor has conjured Rousseau and removed the lushness of color in favor of delicately rendered lines. One painting I’ve yet to mention is Patience, whose focus is coffee and coffee pots, in various stages of brewing. The pots are divorced from a heat source and float above washy drippy, swaths of paint and the occasional cigarette.
If the journey is as cryptic as it is direct, perhaps coffee and cigarettes are the closest we will get to a self portrait —a crop, a habit, and a lifestyle.
~Katy Diamond Hamer
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