Monday, 30 May 2011

'Carrion' an essay by David Matthews

‘Carrion’, an essay by David Matthews

Since the neon lights went down on Gregor Laird's last show, his previous penchant for a plastic aesthetic and razor-sharp computer-generated lines have been replaced by an altogether more organic approach to illustration. His new work - CARRION - (a joint exhibition with fellow artist Sarah Green) has two sections. Focusing around macabre imagery of the deceased Michael Jackson (ThrilleR.I.P, taking in disturbingly comic representations of his pet monkey Bubbles and religious imagery) and continues his ongoing fascination with nature with a series of pictures based on birds.

The images of the zombie-like Michael Jackson are representative of a tongue-in-cheek response to the public's vulture-like circling over celebrity carrion – living and deceased - and how once the flesh has been picked off the bones, we move on to the next casualty. By creating artworks about him after his death, this plays with the way that deceased celebrities are often held-up and regarded in greater esteem posthumously than they were in life, but turns this on its head, as he’s represented as rotten and decaying, not whitewashed and shining. The most representative image is a triptych, Jackson as Christ, his doctor Conrad Murray and Bubbles either side, crucified like the two thieves who died beside Jesus.

The various images of birds perch ominously somewhere between Hitchcock and Black Swan complimenting Sarah Green's work and giving the viewer a jolting shot of pre-apocalyptic tension and images addressing a growing sense of unease within the world, which has since replaced pre-millenium tension that permeated art, culture and the media in the run-up to Y2K. The birds reference the nightmarish scenes in Hitchcock's eponymous film, and in others such as 'Hour of the Wolf' by Ingmar Bergman.This new showcase of mixed media drawings have a distinct painterly quality about them, which could be filed under the 'New Gothic Art' movement, making this collection altogether more 'new grave' than 'new rave', which is how The List described his last solo show.

The work's textures are rich, tactile and inviting, and really help draw you into Laird's world of 'mutated design'. The organic approach to this subject matter really works in its favour, as so much of the emotive quality of the work would be lost if the silhouettes were as cleanly-cut as his 'Plastic Pastorals' work. The colours and textures really have a quality about them akin to the works of Francis Bacon or George Condo and the subject matter is as deliciously dark as that of those luminaries.

The overarching theme of CARRION is that of the certainty of death, and the associated human responses to this, ranging from the emotional anxiety in the face of (personal and general) apocalypse and the act of attempting to preserve after death through art. But like the Shelley poem 'Ozymandias', the artwork and effigy of the subject is now decayed, the flesh of the original consumed by nature, life and the media. Also, by using someone like Michael Jackson as the subject matter - who was infamous for his botched plastic surgery - it further underscores this idea of the futility of self-preservation or beautification attempts, that the battle against the ravages of time is one you cannot win, and that his literal public face, like the paedophilia rumours that scandalised and destroyed the publics' perception of the man, has been picked apart, leaving only the naturally occurring flesh, bone and biological matter. Art, celebrity, fame, life, humanity - it all boils down to this - leftover, pestilent CARRION.

'Carrion', joint exhibition, Sarah Green & Gregor Laird

New work.
Axolotl Gallery,
35 Dundas Street,

Friday, July 8 2011 until Monday, August 1
Gallery opening hours:
11am - 4pm Tues - Thurs and 11-6 Fri - Sat

Opening party:
6pm - 9pm Friday July 8th, all welcome.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Freak Show

I have been given a date for a brand new exhibition of illustrations to be held at Axolotl Gallery, Dundas St, Edinburgh. It will start on Friday 8th July 2011 (also the day of the opening party) and is a joint headline between myself and very close friend and occasional collaborator Sarah Green.

My part of the gallery will be split into two sections, each section having a different set of drawings with a different theme. I don't want to give too much away right now, but these pictures have really seen me grow stylistically, whilst retaining much of the same themes that I have worked on before.

I thought in the interim I would post some images and press reviews of the last group show I was part of at Axolotl. You can read about the thinking behind these images here.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Number 24 logo design

I was asked to design a logo for a café, so I took inspiration from it's name (and the number of it's address).

I interlinked the '2' and the '4' as this is also the symbol of Jupiter, which represents abundance and plenty, which I thought was very fitting for a place you go for food, drink and chat.

Menergy May 2011 - End of the Art School

It's the last date for Menergy at the Art School bar before it's knocked down so I wanted something apocalyptic.