Sue Scott Gallery is pleased to announce Blue Ridge by Headlights, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Tom McGrath.
Produced over the last two years after residencies in Northern France, Miami and Eastern Tennessee, McGrath’s paintings materialize these transient stints and interrogate the use of landscape in its capacity to suggest a specific sense of place. Whether evoked by a tourist-free Giverny at night, the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway or the tropical motifs often used in the “theming” of suburban Miami, these works present a rethinking of McGrath’s relationship to painting, its ideologies and organizing principles.
McGrath melds his interest in the pastoral with the nocturnal, portraying landscapes lit from below by the artificial glow of headlights. These nocturnes present a contradictory space in which the soft, deep tonal arrangements of a traditional nocturne are set against the bleached out, acidic and flattened space of the head-lit foreground. In this way, the paintings allude to how the eye adjusts over time to two different kinds of incompatible space, slipping between different modes of painting. This deliberately un-naturalistic approach challenges landscape painting’s romantic and historic purview and disrupts the painted image, in much the same way McGrath’s distorted windshields did in the past. McGrath maintains a view of landscape that is a register for the way subjects interact, as a medium that shapes social space rather than a commentary on nature affected by culture.
This idea of obfuscation is further explored in paintings of scenes experienced through window blinds. Recalling Alain Robbe-Grillet’s short novel Jealousy (from the French “jalousie,” or venetian blind), a story not coincidentally about dislocation and surface—these paintings attempt to construct a method of painting landscapes “off-site” and stake out an impossible vantage point, to frame the painting’s object of perception through some sort of obscuring condition. Looking at while looking through: this is a central and ongoing theme in McGrath’s work.
Tom McGrath was born in New Milford, CT, in 1978. He graduated from Cooper Union in 2000 and received his MFA from Columbia University in 2002. This is McGrath’s first show with Sue Scott Gallery. He has had solo exhibitions at Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL) New York, Maruani – Noirhomme, Knokke, Belgium and Lia Rumma, Naples, Italy and two person exhibitions at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles and David Castillo Gallery, Miami. He has work in the permanent collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; Yale University Art Gallery; the University of Virginia Art Museum; the Neuberger Museum of Art; RISD Museum of Art and the Orlando Museum of Art, among others.
Tom McGrath lives and works in New York City.