The creative talents of Brussels-based artist Gregory Mc Grew have come naturally to him. After all, he is following his parents’ esteemed and accomplished visual arts skills. “My father is an architect and my mother is a painter, so I’ve always been in an artistic environment. I started drawing at a young age and did “bandes dessinées” (comic strips) until I was a teenager. I think that type of storytelling led me naturally to making videos”, Gregory starts our conversation.
Mc Grew seems to be distinctive among the current crop of European video artists in producing projects that are focused around themes of memory and dreams. “I do videos and video installations. It generally evokes mind images, dream state of consciousness and the videos take the form of long forward or backward traveling shots. The installations are often miniatures and are shown in small black boxes so that the spectators can only see them individually. The boxes represent the human head in which memories or dreams are taking place”.
Except his artistic family, Gregory says, his great influence is cinema. “Filmmakers like Tarkovsky and Lynch are deeply rooted in my imagery. I use films in my work as references and also as a main material. In most of my videos I use extracts from movies that I combine with a 3D environment. For me, cinema is a big dream factory that gives us all the same memories. Using it gives the possibility of sharing a common language with each spectator on a conscious and unconscious level”.
If you happened to find yourself at one of his last shows “DRIVE IN MEMORIES”, you could have witnesssed his exhilarating ‘time machine” in action. “My latest project called “Drive In Memories” is a video installation with a small model of a car (scale 1/12) in which I’ve replaced the car lights by two mini video projectors that show two videos that blend on top of each other. The first one is a travelling shot of a road at night in a forest made in 3D and the second one is an edit of excerpts of the movie “Vertigo” by Hitchcock, where James Stewart is following Kim Novak in his car. The road is a circuit that loops forever where James Stewart’s character tries to find a way out without ever succeeding”.
Gregory studied at the Beaux Arts in Paris. While living in France he learned about recent developments in video art and cinema, including the works of people he came to admire. But a few years ago he resolved to move to Belgium to pursue his art. “I’ve been in Brussels for only two years. The big difference with Paris is the amount of artists’ run spaces and independent galleries which make it easier to show your work as a young artist”, admits Gregory. Currently, he is a director of an artistic group “”PEZCORP” (http://www.pez-corp.net/ ). “Pezcorp is a contraction between the sweet brand “PEZ” and “corp” – for corporation. The pez dispensers all have different heads on a same body and we felt it represented well how we worked together: the main concept in which each individuality does his own art piece in different ways and forms”.
In addition to his art practice, Gregory also gives workshops for beginners and professionals at the centre for art and contemporary technology “ICON Brussels”.
So I ask him, how does his upcoming weekend workshop on aftereffects look like and what makes it unique? “The masterclass tries to be hands on and interactive. We start off with a tutorial as an example, where students follow each step along the way, and then there is a more personal creative part in which I guide each person individually. The idea is to teach in the intensive course format the necessary techniques for the students to be able to work on their own projects”.