STUDIO TIME

Vol. 3 CONOR MCGRADY in Conversation with Yana Dimitrova, May 25, 2020

Enjoy a virtual visit to painter CONOR MCGRADY's studio in the Burren, Ireland where he was preparing a museum solo show in Croatia, which has now been postponed to July 2021.

Fellow artist Yana Dimitrova asks him from New York: What are the ideas behind his landscape work? How does a painter adjust to an increasingly digital art world in the post-pandemic era?

CONOR MCGRADY (born 1970, Northern Ireland)

Conor McGrady's recent gouache drawings reflect his living environment of monumental limestone hills in the Burren as well as Europe's ongoing tension between the desire for openness and ideological barriers to the tide of migration. The works explore landscape as a multi-layered signifier, representing national territory, boundaries, control, fortification and threat.

Frontier V, 2018, gouache on Paper22 x 30 in (55 x 75 cm) © Conor McGrady

While his visual vocabulary is aligned with modernism i.e. Bauhaus, Constructivism, and Minimalism, his color palette is limited to black, white, and different shades of grey. The building structures might represent the irony of architecture -- protection and security versus containment and control.

Interface, 2017, gouache on Yupo polymer paper, 22 x 30 in (55 x 75 cm) © Conor McGrady

Conor’s upbringing in the Northern Ireland of the 1970s and 1980s gave him ample reason to become preoccupied with the psychology of power and control. His earlier work explores the role of authority and how it translates into symbols, iconography, and the self-conception of individuals and nation-states. He depicts groups of anonymous, mostly male figures performing social rituals as a unit in a joint effort against an unseen enemy or participating in a collective triumph over unseen victims. He says, "the drawings are an attempt to engage with the dichotomy between representations of power and the embrace of the visionary in a socio-political climate increasingly defined by fear and crisis."

The Nation Builders, 2010 gouache on paper (triptych), 96 x 165 in. (243 x 419 cm)

Conor McGrady has exhibited internationally, with one-person exhibitions in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Zagreb. Group exhibitions include the 2002 Whitney Biennial in New York, The Jerusalem Show VII: Fractures (Qalandiya International Biennial), D-0 Ark Underground Biennale of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo-Konjic, and IK-00 Spaces of Confinement in Venice. His solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art, Split, Croatia is scheduled for July 2021. Conor received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, UK. As Dean of Academic Affairs at Burren College of Art, he currently lives in the Burren, Ireland with his wife Karen and son Osin.

Conor's work is currently featured in our online exhibition BORDERS (part-1).