Gregory Gillespie: Solo Exhibition ‘Rorschaching’ Opens, Oct. 14 – Nov. 15

New York, N.Y. Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents our first solo exhibition of paintings by Gregory Gillespie (1936-2000). The works are drawn from the artist’s estate. This exhibition examines Gillespie’s output from the last ten years of his career, when his work was increasingly influenced by Buddhism and Tantric philosophy and imagery.

He combined an obsessive Western oil painting technique with elements from Mughal miniature painting and Tibetan mandalas, often making use of doubling and mirror imagery, reminiscent of the Rorschach.

e75e6426-17b3-4955-b4df-8c57b7fdef74Gregory Gillespie, Mandala With Shears, 1996, Oil on Board, 32 1/4 x 19 1/8 inches.

Gillespie was a visionary realist, known for his intensely detailed still lives, portraits and above all, formidable self-portraits. His earliest exhibited works were ferocious, often sexualized, figurative scenes, painted during his stay in Italy in the 60s. They were exhibited first with Forum Gallery in 1970. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden presented a major survey exhibition of Gillespie’s work in 1977.

Gillespie combined masterly oil painting with photographic elements and Xerox transfer. Contemporaries, such as Rauschenberg and Warhol, utilized photographic transfer techniques in their process, yet Gillespie’s camouflaging of the photographic elements in his work, under layers of oil painting, imbues his use of photography with a subversive, almost entropic quality. In his layered detailed patterning one sees animated tiny hidden figures.

The painter Matt Bollinger observed that Gillespie’s use of the macro/micro elements in his work reminded him, “…of the movement in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, when the camera careens from the technicolor suburb, down through the green grass, into an underbelly of writhing black beetle bodies.”

Gillespie’s obsession with the body prefigures the concerns of any number of contemporary artists from John Currin and Lucien Freud to Ana Mendieta, Marlene Dumas and the Chapman Brothers. His mix of body obsession, pattern and abstraction, photography, clinical observation and spiritual preoccupations feeding into challenging occasionally scabrous sexuality anticipates the multi-dimensional outrageousness of much contemporary art.

Gillespie was born in Roselle Park, New Jersey, into a strict Roman Catholic household. Early themes of sin and repression would go on to haunt him for the rest of his life: “The paintings are religious … because they come out of repression. They come out of the impulse to do sacrilege, which is a religious impulse.”

Gillespie attended Cooper Union and later The San Francisco Art Institute, gaining exposure to Abstract Expressionism and Bay Area Figuration. Although he developed an admiration for such abstract artists as Pollock and Diebenkorn, he was ever the outlier and struck his own course. “I wanted to tell a story” he said.

In 1962, Gillespie received a Fulbright-Hayes grant to live and work in Florence. Deeply impressed by the Renaissance masters and the intricate brushwork of Carlo Crivelli, in particular, which matched his own obsessive style, he remained in Italy until 1970. Upon returning to the United States, he settled permanently in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Gillespie‘s work was surveyed in a traveling exhibition organized by the Georgia Museum of Art in 1999/2000. His work is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston among others. This is the first exhibition of Gillespie’s work in New York in five years.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with an essay by Saul Ostrow. Please contact the gallery at 917-861-7312 or info@shfap.com for further information or images.

The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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