Laith Mcgregor:

For his latest exhibition Laith McGregor has turned to the cinema for inspiration.

feature by Hamish Sawyer MAY 2019

In their 1951 film Utopia, comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy become shipwrecked on a South Pacific atoll, en route to claiming an island inherited by Laurel from a wealthy uncle. Laurel and Hardy declare a republic on the new atoll but mayhem predictably ensues when a valuable uranium deposit is discovered, and world powers arrive to claim it. A still from the movie (also known as Atoll K.) is the source material for a new drawing by artist Laith McGregor. The work, Politics (2019), is the centrepiece of McGregor’s forthcoming exhibition at Starkwhite, Auckland and continues his ongoing investigation of real and fictional identities.

Drawing has been the foundation of McGregor’s practice since he graduated from the Victorian College of Arts in 2007, quickly gaining attention for his ballpoint pen portraits of fantastically bearded men. These works demonstrated McGregor’s considerable technical ability and established portraiture as a principal concern of his practice. Viewed in relation to subsequent works, McGregor’s beards operate as masks, their scale and virtuosity rendering the identity of their subjects – both real and imagined – elusive or unknowable.

Over the past decade, McGregor’s practice has continued to evolve, considering interconnected ideas of identity, time and artistic labour through an expanded visual language and range of media. While drawing remains a fundamental tenet of his practice, McGregor has engaged with a range of materials, techniques and approaches to art-making. A recent series of large-scale drawings depicting Pacific Island landscapes were made using templates from... Subscribe to read this article in full


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ACCA MelbourneQAGOMA Roslyn Oxley Gallery Museum of BrisbaneGovett Brewster NGV