4/01/2014

Strange Beauty: Gregory Gillespie

Doug Ferrin has suggested American painter Gregory Gillespie (1936-2000) for the current theme of strange beauty, and says he's a huge admirer of his work.

Night Garden mixed media on panel 7 1/2"x 6 3/4" 1972-3

Gillespie is known for his somewhat bizarre subject matter, usually rendered in painstaking detail, and eluding clear identification with any art movement or genre. He once said that he was trying to suggest a reality beyond our sense, and indeed, his obsession with detail gives his work a haunting, almost hallucinatory quality. 

As a young man, Gillespie spent six years in Florence and Rome studying the works of Masaccio, Mantegna, Carpaccio and his favorite, Carlo Crivelli.

Street, Madrid oil on canvas 10 3/4"x10"

Doug Ferrin has some interesting things to say about Gillespie's work:
Gregory Gillespie was weird. I'm not sure why I feel so sympathetic toward him - his stuff just moves me. To see them in person is so impressive, and he's got wonderful grays. In a way he reminds me of Vermeer, little paintings that I get entirely lost in, little worlds that, while I'm looking at them, nothing else exists. 
The meaning seems to be in his absorption with his subject, his obsession with detail, his very directed flow of almost hallucinatory consciousness. His Italian pictures look very Italian to me, like he soaked up what was around him.
"Street, Madrid" I just saw it a couple of weeks ago and there's no way it's on canvas. I remember an interview with him from years ago where he talked about several of his paintings, I'm quite certain this one specifically, saying he took magazine photos and painted right on top of them. Finding this kind of depth (and the paint-work is fantastic) in a magazine photo is pretty remarkable to my mind- Douglas Ferrin

Gregory Gillespie (Russell Lynes, photographer)
My background was Catholic and I grew up in a very restricted and repressed environment in New Jersey. And there’s a lot of anguish and pain in that. Like a delicate organism being born in the world and the kind of violence that’s done to us as a matter of course- Gregory Gillespie

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