ReSession: Painting Memory & Music in the Synaptic Space

Still Life with Pipes & Braces, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in., 2021

Planxty Damm, oil on goat skin, maple bodhrán shell, 15 x 5.5 in., 2021

Planxty Damm (side view), oil on goat skin, maple bodhrán shell, 15 x 5.5 in., 2021

Planxty Burton (side view), oil on goat skin, maple bodhrán shell, 15 x 5.5 in., 2021

Planxty Howell (side view), oil on goat skin, Baltic birch bodhrán shell, cherry & mahogany details, herringbone purfling, 15 x 5.5 in., 2021

Posted on: April 3, 2021
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Chris Gray's oil paintings explore personal and collective memory. Personal memories of local music and musicians in Maine intersect with collective memories and traditions of Realist portrait painters and Irish traditional music, concretized into oil-painted lieux de memoire. The Peircean index is utilized as a form of memory, both in the photographic process, and through the use of indices of collective memories within the finished paintings. By creatively revisiting the past on two levels, including personal memories and their photographic indices, Gray is able to reconnect with these moments, momentarily collapsing temporal distance, and bringing the past vividly into the present in a manner that parallels the transmission of tradition via performance. Through the Proustian binocularity of memory, this revisiting of the past provides an important depth of perspective. Furthermore, the creative act of painting, and the agency of variation and invention that this revisiting enables, allows for the transformative revival of the past into something new, a third memory, or a reconfiguration of identity: a new work of art, which is distinctly present, and which enables the past to be not only revisited but worked through, enriched in form and content, and compositionally transformed. Finally, these works serve as means of reopening and sustaining dialogue with those pictured, transforming memories into paintings and again into very real social reconnections in the present.

Other Projects by Chris Gray

Chris Gray

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MFA Student

Major: Painting

Graduation Year: 2021

Artist Statement:

Born and raised on the coast of Maine, and surrounded by Acadia National Park, I have always had a deep fascination with edges: edge of land, edge of storm, edge of day. These intense intersections, these meetings of extremes, give rise to such spectacular yet fleeting beauty. Through my paintings, I endeavor to capture the power and beauty of these moments at the edges of experience.