MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2019, 2016
Artist StatementMy paintings range in subject from the once glorious but now dilapidated buildings of Baltimore City to the historic city of Nagasaki, Japan. The Baltimore Ruins paintings are highly detailed paintings of the city's crumbling and in some cases, razed, structures. I aspire to reflect the deep, dark, gritty nature of the city, as is reflected in its architecture. Inferences to the human psyche are enmeshed in each gash, hole, and sloppy patch. The Mysteries of Baltimore series is similar except that they lean more towards allegory. I use animals, people, and hybrid creatures to create a dark fairy tale like environment. These paintings frequently have distressed structures and derelict buildings that serve more as stage settings or echoes for the drama unfolding among the inhabitants. The newest Baltimore City paintings focus on very complex graffiti and tags, and how this language battles with itself and with the buildings that it has been applied to. The graffiti and tags, this subculture of messaging, fights against itself for dominance. The graffiti also battles with street signs and other kinds of directives near buildings. Moreover, the street art is at odds with the buildings it’s sprayed on. The graffiti, flat, colorful, and very stylized, works against the highly structured, often classical architecture of Baltimore City, in a shocking juxtaposition of styles. The Nagasaki City paintings are scenes of Nagasaki's multilevel, Tetris -like architecture. Nagasaki is a charming, historic place, filled with gravity, character, and a shifting horizon line that forces multiple and dramatic views. Of course, it carries the burden of its past, the atomic bomb. In a small way, the paintings may reflect some of the city’s unique and at times, difficult history. Some of these paintings lean towards allegory, and include both people and animals, while others emphasize the structure and character of the buildings themselves. I also make more figurative work that investigates ideas of transformation, identity, subversive behavior, and the individual’s place in society. While these images nod toward dream logic and Symbolism, both fundamentals aspects of Decadence, at their core, they are addressing questions of how, with our unique beliefs, practices, and identities, we manage to coexist and experience a sense of spirituality, creativity, and purpose. They combine elements of Western paintings- most notably, images of the Madonna and Child, with symbols and figures from Japan. Fantastical and ill-fated creatures are also a part of this family. Some of my figurative paintings are psychological portraits of artist couples. They are based on friends and colleagues. These watercolors explore the inner psychological dynamic between people and sometimes, their pets. This work relies heavily on symbolism and exploring my relationship with my sitters. My work is partially influenced by the Decadent Movement of Western Europe. These artists and writers were known to give florid levels of description in their scenery, embrace perversion, and indulge in all things exotic. They were at ease shifting between reality and more irrational ideas. Often these artists conveyed a sort of sickness or battle within themselves. Charles Baudelaire, Odileon Redon, and Edgar Allen Poe, may be counted among the Decadents. While I have a slightly different type of sensitivity than these artists, I am certainly working in the same artistic tradition. I am also influenced by Magical Realsim, Surrealism, and German Expressionism, though I certainly keep an eye to contemporary artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Paula Rego, Lisa Yuskavage, Ceccily Brown, and many more. Gregory McLemore
Greg McLemore is both an artist and art educator. He has been living in Baltimore City for about 15 years now, though he is originally from North Carolina. His art employs the idea of Magical Realism as a starting point to explore the tragic, mysterious, and often comical aspects of life. His work ranges from elaborately detailed urban landscapes to fantastical, surreal narratives.
Greg earned a Master of Fine Arts at The University of Arizona in 2003 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of North Carolina Asheville in 1999. He exhibits his work both regionally and nationally, with recent solo exhibitions at Notre Dame University, MD, Lycoming College, PA, and Art Space in Raleigh, NC. Recent group exhibitions include showing at Limner Gallery, NY, Galuedet Gallery, WI, and multiple galleries in the Baltimore area. Recent publications and awards include inclusion in New American Paintings, South, 2019, Artist of the Year, 2019, with Limner Gallery/ Slow Art Productions in NY, The University of Florida’s Arts and Literary Magazine, Aquifer and the 2017 edition of Slow Art Production’s, Sextet. He was awarded Best of Show in 2018, in the exhibition Shining Light at Grey Matter Gallery in Baltimore. Greg was a semifinalist for the 2016 Sondheim Prize and was awarded an Individual Artist Grant in Painting by the Maryland State Arts Council in 2016 and 2019. He is an Adjunct III Professor of Art at Towson University and teaches at other institutions as well.