MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2019, 2016
Artist StatementArtist Statement We humans are a damaged, broken, and divided lot. We are a collection of injuries, injustices, minor slights and major traumas, never quite forgotten. These all build to age us, to scar us, and in some cases, to absolutely mutilate us. Of course we work hard to remedy our problems- we bandage our cuts and plaster the holes in our walls. We re-configure, re-calibrate our machines, so that they may continue to perform. This collection of paintings revolves around the idea that we are in a constant state of damage incursion, striving to maintain a precipitous state of repair. Some of the repairs are successful while others are embarrassing failures. The paintings are about how life chips away at our bodies, at our structures, at our goals, and how we try, at varying levels, to negotiate, to fight back. There are different ways to apply a patch. We can cover the surface, to at least keep it safe from additional damage, or we can first dig down and find the root of the problem. Ideally, once it is found, we can remove it and install a new part- then apply the patch, creating a perfect invisible seal. But how will the new part get along with the old parts? Do they fall into syncopation or do they reject each other, creating new, mutant forms? Is this how hybrid creatures are made? Is this how our mixed and strange structures, cracked and crumbling, glued back together by slops of plaster, those brick and mortar equivalents of multiple personality disorder, evolve? My 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 Nagasaki City paintings are scenes of Nagasaki's multilevel, Tetris -like architecture. Rather than the gleaming futuristic cities one might expect in Japan, 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 lean more toward Surrealism- at their core, they are addressing questions of how, with all of our unique beliefs, practices, and identities, we manage to coexist with a simulacrum of peace. They are also reminiscent of Icon painting, in that there is usually a central figure of psychological significance, flanked by a supporting group of characters. Gregory G. McLemore
Greg McLemore uses 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 his Master of Fine Arts at The University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of North Carolina Asheville. A native of North Carolina, he has been living in Baltimore City for nearly 15 years. He is actively exhibiting regionally and nationally. Greg was a semifinalist for the 2016 Sondheim Prize and was awarded an Individual Artist Grant by the Maryland State Arts Council in 2016. He is an Adjunct Professor of Art at multiple institutions in and around Baltimore, MD.