David Griggs

David Griggs’ first solo show in Melbourne in eight years features a suite of painterly portraits responding to a socially and politically turbulent year.

Presented at STATION Gallery, ‘The ashtray reader’ continues Griggs’ shadowy examination of the human condition as he destabilises the genre of portraiture, amplifying it to a loud, unapologetic beat. These are portraits built on emotional affect rather than physical fidelity, turning inside out – rather viscerally – the personalities on the canvas.

Fusing politics and popular culture with personal narrative, the paintings exude a certain tension and otherness befitting the vicissitudes of 2019. A self-portrait homage to Vincent van Gogh sits alongside grotesque representations of Donald Trump, his beady, red-rimmed eyes peering over an enlarged, offensive mouth vociferating an onslaught of lies. Meanwhile, abject meaty bodies in the vein of Francis Bacon and Otto Dix and reclining nudes alluding to western canonical paintings simultaneously repulse and allure.

Having spent much of his career working between The Philippines and Australia, Griggs has been exposed to a wide lexicon of symbols and landscapes informing his anarchic, frenzied approach to painting, film and photography. The artist’s return to the more conventional mode of portraiture has seen him spend hours in the studio focusing on stillness and technique, fuelled by a year of global isolation.

David Griggs: The ashtray reader
23 January – 20 February 2021
STATION Gallery, Melbourne

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