Jason Greig

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1963

Vulcan Paradise

  • Purchased, 1998
  • Monoprint
  • 605 x 749mm
  • 98/93
  • 1998

Back in the 1990s, Jason Greig famously said that heavy metal band Black Sabbath was the thing that got him up and going and wanting to draw. It’s a line that’s often been quoted in relation to his work, probably because it seems to be at odds with the refinement and virtuosity of his printmaking technique, or the venerable tradition of artists in which he works—Redon, Goya, Piranesi. Greig said that Black Sabbath’s music was fuel: “the imagery and the weight of it […] I do heavy, laden drawings, dense. When I hear some really loud guitars it gives me the same sort of feeling.”

The images collected here span nearly two decades and reveal a remarkably consistent imagination, forged in Greig’s reading of nineteenth-century gothic novelists such as Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, and what he describes as the “battle of good and evil” in mid-twentieth century movies. Light falls across blasted volcanic landscapes; isolated figures clutch books or brandish scythes; sinister deals of one sort or another appear to be in the process of playing out. The corners of most of the images are dark, vignetted like an early photograph. For Greig, the past is full of unfinished business. “I guess it’s about wearing your lineage on your sleeve. I reckon that images of last century are catching up with this.”

Greig’s figures are versions of himself, “but I try to disguise it a bit”. They evoke psychological states of alienation and estrangement, and depict life as a long strange journey into the unknown. “My art is about love, lost and found. It’s about dark lonely places, imagined and real. And it’s about the constant naggin’ thought that the end is always nearer. I have dealt with my demons, in life and on pieces of pummelled paper. The road I have travelled has been paved with gold that shines, and with bile that fumes.”

(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)

earlier labels about this work
  • Vulcan was the Roman god of fire and metals - the blacksmith of the gods. Forge or paradise, Jason Greig has created a fantastic, otherworldly landscape, inhabited by strangely primitive looking people. The air is thick with red smoke; the land is rugged, shadowy and volcanic. Greig’s work is similar to the fantastical, decadent and sinister works of the 19th century French Symbolists, such as Odilon Redon (1840 -1916). This work is a monoprint, made by painting an image with an oily pigment (traditionally printer’s ink) onto a printing surface, which is then transferred to paper by rubbing or by being passed through an intaglio press. This technique ‘spreads’ the tones in a very distinctive way. Born in Timaru, Greig graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1985. He was a visiting lecturer in printmaking at Canterbury in 1991, printmaking tutor at the Otago Polytechnic’s Oamaru campus in 1993 and 1994 and has also taught at the Aoraki Polytechnic in Timaru. Greig is represented in New Zealand’s major public art collections.