Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to inaugurate 2015 with a selection of recent works on paper by André Gregory. At Home marks the artist’s first New York solo exhibition.
Gregory’s still lifes depict personal everyday objects and are set in the intimate surroundings of the artist’s home and studio. Here, a favorite reading chair, vintage cameras, an artist’s filing cabinet or typewriter, for example, take center stage. In fact, they transform into protagonists of a storyline that feels familiar but omits directed narrative. Instead of the latter, we follow Gregory’s line, which unifies his subjects and renders each with a sense of warmth that suggests an admiring observer. While little trained in traditional fine art techniques, Gregory has spent most of his life closely studying people, objects and his environment. His approach to composition and ability to bestow his subjects with an uncanny sense of myth and meaning, are significantly informed by his life’s work as a writer, performer and longtime theater director.
The installation of At Home embraces both a salon-style hanging and a concentrated sparse presentation in order to evoke the emotional range and expressive freedom found in Gregory’s work. While at first glance, most of his drawings appear playful and joyous, closer inspection often reveals darker undertones and even a sense of foreboding. A rocking chair with an old teddy bear whose face has been distorted into a mask, raises questions of abandonment and a lonely childhood perhaps; an artist’s chest with only a couple of drawers slightly ajar resembles a creature of unpredictable appetite, guarding its hidden treasures.
Born in 1934 in Paris, France, André Gregory is best known for his avant-garde work in the theater. His staging of “Alice in Wonderland”, which Richard Avedon celebrated in his book “Alice in Wonderland: The Forming of a Company and the Making of a Play” (1973), is considered one of the hallmark theater productions of the 1970s. In the mid-70s, Gregory abruptly left the country. The cinematic landmark, “My Dinner with Andre” (1981), written by and starring both Gregory and longtime friend and collaborator Wallace Shawn, was inspired by Gregory’s experiences abroad. These included travels to Poland on an invitation from legendary director Jerzy Grotowski, where they developed experimental theatrical events, as well as subsequent years spent in a variety of esoteric spiritual communities. Another classic film, which was based on Gregory’s stage work, is “Vanya on 42nd Street” (1994), which was directed by Louis Malle. Gregory's most recent projects include the direction of "Grasses of a Thousand Colors" (2013), which had its premiere at The Royal Court in London, and "The Designated Mourner" (2013). Both were written by and starred Shawn in a co-production between Theatre for a New Audience and The Public Theater in New York. In 2014, Jonathan Demme, Gregory, and Shawn released a movie version of Ibsen's classic "A Master Builder" based on Gregory’s theatre work rehearsed over seventeen years. This feature film opened at New York’s Film Forum and was released nation wide. Gregory’s fascinating life and career were captured by his wife, the documentary filmmaker Cindy Kleine, in her film "Before and After Dinner" (2013). Gregory is currently working on his memoirs in collaboration with Andrew London, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives and works in New York City.