This solo exhibition by Laith McGregor showcases large-scale drawings and a new series of collages, all inspired by the concept and experience of island life. The exhibition aligns with the launch of McGregor’s latest publication, also titled ‘Archipelago’.
“Made over the past six years, the Island Drawings comprise a series of large-scale works on paper that reference Pacific Island landscapes and extend McGregor’s ongoing interest in portraiture to consider the relationship between identity, place and image-making. The source material for these drawings is templates from ‘Paint by Numbers’ kits, popular during the 1960s and 70s. McGregor, who recalls his grandmother using such kits to paint with, uses the templates as a readymade compositional device. The resulting works are fictional landscapes, based on a stylised, mass-produced vision of Pacific Island life; and further mediated through McGregor’s own aesthetic response to his source material.”
– Excerpt from ‘Island Drawings/Island Collages’ by Hamish Sawyer in Archipelago, 2019.
Following on from his epic 2016 book for Perimeter Editions, S-O-M-E-O-N-E, Laith McGregor’s latest publication forges a somewhat unlikely dialogue between the artist’s often divergent processes and aesthetic outcomes. Drawing on two very different but interlinked bodies of work – McGregor’s long-running Island Drawings and more recent Island Collages – the book juxtaposes the Australian artist’s meticulously rendered, monochromatic drawings with his spontaneous, colour-rich and playfully formal collages.
Made in close collaboration with the artist – and published to coincide with a major exhibition at STATION Sydney, in late 2019 – Archipelago skirts a line between artist book and monograph, wrangling McGregor’s works in a loose, intuitive
fashion, all the while affording them the critical attention they demand. Featuring an incisive text by prominent Brisbane based curator and writer Hamish Sawyer, the book sees McGregor continue his at once lively, conceptual, idiosyncratic and methodical explorations of a wider premise that broaches travel, diarism, exoticism, representations of the Pacific and expanded notions of the portrait.