Michael Gregory: Six Days on the Road
December 8, 2011 — January 21, 2012
The next exhibition at Nancy Hoffman Gallery, entitled “Six Days on the Road,” new paintings by Michael Gregory, opens on December 8, 2011, and continues through January 21, 2012.
For the past decade Gregory has focused on the American iconic landscape, including a barn or farm community, a silo, telephone poles, fences, fields of hay, vast cloud or star- filled skies. Jumping off from a love of the land and the West that John Steinbeck described in his books, the artist paints not so much a “photoreal” aspect of his days on the road as an ideational reportage in oil on canvas. Scaling up to 6x5 feet, most of his newest paintings embrace color; each addresses painting issues that engage the artist. Gregory is not interested in the veristic colors of the world as we see it. Three of the paintings are a tone poem: “Three Sisters,” “Eight Mile High,” “White Horses,” a trilogy of sunset that bathes the mountains in lavender light, each piece speaks to the other, while they stand alone as powerful iconic images with fields melting into mountains melting into sky.
While the manifest content of the works is “the landscape,” these are not simple landscapes and not simply the landscape qua landscape. This is terrain ripe for exploration, a terrain where space seems infinite, where light can shine in the sky uninterrupted by the detritus of civilization. These are paintings harking back to another time, yet achingly contemporary. Pared to the essence of structure in the landscape, a barn sets the stage for mood, time and place, and arrests one’s eye as one views the fields and mountains and skies. The poetry in the paintings is palpable, the sense of memory is undeniable.
Gregory writes about this body of work:
“America has always been an idea, a construct of our imagination and our imagination has outdistanced even its vast boundaries and empty places. Our pastoral yearnings are far from the reality of an unforgiving landscape and the hard life on the range. The West is littered with buildings that are reminders of this struggle.
“Our American middle and our Great Plains have provided us a rich metaphor for a discussion of our hopes, aspirations and failures. They are the subject of literature; poetry and song—part of our American common language. These buildings have a particular resonance for us now as their history and their builder’s struggles are being reenacted during our current economic woes.
“For a number of years now I have taken a series of road trips throughout the Midwest and West. These paintings are visual composites of these trips, re-imagined and re-
constructed in the studio. These barns and buildings reflect the people who built them; indeed they are reminders of them. Some are set solitary against a backdrop of mountains. Others are swallowed in a sea of grain. Still others are showered by a heaven full of stars. The light from these stars is in reality the visual past.
“In the studio images are assembled on the canvas much like one would compose a still life. I am drawn by the stark geometry of the buildings but they are also chosen for their emotional and symbolic resonance. These paintings are an attempt to create a notion of a ‘true west.’ We are reminded, by these structures in the vast landscape, of our human frailty in the face of time and the elements. They are a memento mori.
“These paintings by their conception and resolution are fictive places, but places we are from and hope to return. I would like to evoke in the viewer an experience of America’s vast reservoir of space, distance, solitude, loneliness and yes, beauty.”
The artist’s work has been shown at The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock; Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Denver; Boulder Center for the Visual Arts, Colorado; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland; Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, Florida; Evansville Museum of Arts, Science and History, Indiana; Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island, Kingston; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan; Florida International University, Miami; Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Maier Museum of Art, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, Virginia; Richmond Art Center, California; San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, California; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, California; San Mateo Arts Council, California; Selby Gallery, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida.
His work is included in the collections of the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, Indiana; San Jose Museum of Art, California, and numerous private collections.
He was Martha and Merritt deJong Memorial Artist-in-Residence, Evansville Museum of Arts, Science and History, Indiana in 2003.
Michael Gregory was born in Los Angeles in 1955. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. He resides in Bolinas, California with his wife and daughters.
For additional information and/or photographs, please call (212) 966-6676 6676 or email Nancy Hoffman Gallery at email@example.com