Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present The Humble and Sublime, an exhibition of new paintings by Miles “El Mac” MacGregor, a Phoenix-based mixed-media artist best known for graffiti-influenced mural projects worldwide. This is Mac’s debut solo show at Joshua Liner.
Working in acrylic on panel, spray paint on canvas, and mixed media on paper, Mac’s gallery-size works echo many of the themes, styles, and techniques seen in his large-scale mural projects. Foremost is the dynamic relationship of figure to ground. Inspired by cultures around the globe—from Mexico to Thailand—Mac generates an endless vocabulary of graphic patterns that serve as an active, signifying backdrop to lovingly detailed and humane portraits.
Children, women, and respected elderly figures (often depicted in monochrome) are all featured amid colorful fields of repeating marks—doodles, graffiti, even proto- language characters—which are transformed into vibrant overall pattern. Against this sea of marks, the carefully rendered and shaded figures take on added poignancy as all-too-human subjects caught in their “cultural context.” In the works omprising The Humble and Sublime, this mark-making mania infiltrates the figure itself, creeping across expanses of skin to infuse these subjects with an electric hum. They exist in multiple states—as portrait subjects with individual identities and as picture surfaces recording the pervasive creep of culture’s stamp.
An Arizona native, Mac draws inspiration from the surrounding Mexican and Chicano culture of the American Southwest, as well as religious art, pinup art, graffiti, and a wide range of canonical artists, including Caravaggio, Mucha, and Vermeer. In the late ’90s Mac began to paint large, technicolor aerosol versions of classic paintings by European masters. This led to a commission in 2003 by the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, Belgium, to paint interpretations of classic Flemish Primitive paintings from the museum’s collection—a peerless example of “the humble and sublime.”
Born in 1980 in Los Angeles, El Mac grew up in Phoenix, AZ, where he continues to live and work. Solo exhibitions include: Vagos y Reinas (with Retna), Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica; Faces of Life, Fifty24SF, San Francisco (both 2009); and Mac in Montreal, Galerie Le Kopshop, Montreal, Canada (2007). Group exhibitions featuring works by Mac have included: Art for All, a public mural project in Seville, Spain; Series Queridos, Museo MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico (both 2010); Primary Flight II & III at Art Basel Miami Beach (2008 and 2009); Burn, Grand Central Arts Center, California State University, Fullerton (2007); and Alt + Ctrl, Beall Center for Art + Technology, University of California, Irvine (2004). Two murals by Mac, created in 2008 and 2009 with the artist Retna, are part of the Margulies Collection in Miami. Additionally, Mac has received commissions to conduct public art projects in cities worldwide, including Milan, Amsterdam, Suwon (South Korea), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Paris, Antwerp, Mexico City, and at the Denver Botanic Gardens.