Michael Gregory was born in Los Angeles, California in 1955. He received a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. He resides in Bolinas, California.
While the barn and other structures such as silos and stucco buildings, took “front and center” in Gregory’s work for the past five years, these structures were always painted in a landscape. In his most recent work, the artist’s decisions are fueled by a desire to create a shift in visual space in the paintings. His newest works are a step back, a new vista onto the landscape near his home in Northern California.
There are images of workers in the fields; sprinklers sparkling with light; circus tents and tented buildings in the landscape, which become abstract shapes of wild color; pure landscapes with a meander that joins land and sky; an air balloon floating above a field of workers, unaware of the colorful object above. Like the workers who are totally immersed in their work, and unaware, the air balloon party participants are in their own floating world, unmindful of the earth beneath and its workers.
Inspired by Breughel’s painting of the “Plowman” in which the workers are oblivious to what is happening around them, and like Millet, who painted workers in fields in honest and straight forward fashion, Michael Gregory paints laborers tilling and toiling the land, tiny in the face of nature’s grandeur, set in the face of land and sky. This is the first time the artist has painted figures in the landscape, giving both a sense of scale.
Gregory’s work cycles between the close in view and the distant view. In his new body of work, he moves from the simplicity of the barn structure “close in” to the humble worker “at a distance” and returns to color with a fresh and different palette ranging from intensely colored striped tent fabrics to muted greens, blues, grays and golds. In palette as well as subject, Gregory creates a new poetic and visual icon.