pencil and ball-point on paper
H 1515 W 995 D 60cm
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2010
Laith McGregor is known for his intricate drawings executed in biro (‘they’re BIC by the way’) and pencil. These figurative works, often self-portraits and portraits of members of his family, interweave history and fiction, popular culture and mythology.
One of the works by McGregor that featured in the MCA exhibition I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing was a video loop showing the artist drawing a beard in biro onto his face.
The European was produced during the artist’s three-month residency at the Centre Intermondes at Le Rochelle in France in 2009. The image takes its inspiration from the rich history of the port, with its seafaring legends and medieval traffic during the Crusades. The Templar Knights passed through here regularly and, in the eighteenth century, La Rochelle also became a port-of-call for the international slave trade.
The curious combination of the chain mail and the wooden barque (sailing vessel) adorning the figure, along with his pale eyes and distant gaze, suggest something of an archetype. The artist posits the figure as a ‘ghost-like chevalier unknowingly holding a slave ship upon his crown … in a continuous journey across time’ (1).
1. Artist’s email to Anna Davis, MCA Curator, October 2010
Historical figures and fictitious characters morph and weave, reaffirming themselves and their presence like phantoms.