Gregor Laird: Lost in the Forest

Brunswick Hotel, Glasgow, Sun 1-Sun 29 Oct


Maybe not a sheep, but definitely dressed in wolf’s clothing, young Edinburgh artist Gregor Laird is taking a trip to where the wild things are for his Glasgay! premiere. Piecing together large collage work for his first show since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2001, the debutant revels in suggestively brassy iconography. Combining countryside vistas with burly figurations of semi-nude males and the glossy typography of city commerce, the artist’s work is possessed by a design-led aesthetic. He certainly isn’t shy of a bit of kitsch couture, and his diverse career history as a make-up artist, window dresser, designer and DJ are all synthesised into a style that gives a wink and a knowing nod to the urbanism of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the surreal eroticism of Henri Rousseau.

‘I’m interested in scratching the surface, only to find more surface,’ says Laird, chuckling at his work’s ambiguous relationship towards narcissism and sexual innuendo. ‘I’m not really into subtlety,’ he adds, lest the works fail to speak for themselves. Counterpointing boisterousness with ostentation, his playful mixed media is far-removed from a quiet backwater upbringing in Dumfries and Galloway. Rural idyll is still present, albeit utterly transformed into a stylised fairytale setting befitting Hansel and Gretel.

The founder of Edinburgh’s celebrated queer clubs Disko Bloodbath and Heroes, Laird’s artistic interest rests proudly in the intersection of music, fashion and design. And despite Glasgay’s prioritising of queer artists above all others, he argues that the festival goes beyond ghettoising queerness to offer a unique platform for his brand of confrontational work that might prove to be excessively provocative elsewhere.

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