Five years after his participation in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, this solo exhibition of Conor McGrady’s work focuses on his recent paintings and drawings. These depictions of urban and rural terrain, often featuring uniformed individuals, testify to McGrady’s ongoing investigation into how power manifests itself in the symbols and iconography employed by individuals and nation states.
McGrady’s work raises questions relating to the control of personal space and national boundaries. His mysterious and yet seductive rural landscapes evoke the tension implicit in areas that contain hidden threats. In the drawings of urban areas, neo-classical architecture conjures up a sense of imagined order and permanence. The impersonal subjects of his figurative compositions explore individual and collective psychology in situations of social instability.
McGrady grew up in Northern Ireland during the height of the region’s recent conflict. Although politics there have evolved, the experience of living in a war zone still resonates in his work. Writes Margaret Hawkins in the Chicago Sun Times, “His work, though clearly universal, is based on personal memory, with the bleached-out images functioning as memories do, stripped of all surrounding context and extraneous detail to give them a terrifying and almost dreamlike intensity.”
Conor McGrady lives and works in New York City. He earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. Besides being exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, his work has been shown in a number of US and European institutions including White Columns and the Chicago Cultural Center.