About the Artwork
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
Quotation: Laith McGregor, from a statement written by the artist on occasion of the acquisition of his work by the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010
Historical figures and fictitious characters morph and weave, reaffirming themselves and their presence like phantoms.
– About the artist
In 2007 Laith McGregor obtained a Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. In 2008 he won the Robert Jacks Drawing Prize at the Bendigo Regional Art Gallery. In 2009 he was awarded an Emerging Artist New Work Grant by Australia Council for the Arts and was the Queensland recipient of the 2009 QANTAS Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award. McGregor is currently undertaking a two year studio residency in Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. His work is represented in public and private collections around Australia.