I am just a little obsessed with Laith McGregor's biro sketches of fantiastical bearded men. The use of biro not lends the work not only a sense of nostalgia (doodles in the margins of exercise books, anyone? -- not that they were ever this good!), but also a feeling of intimacy. This is not about big, gutsy brush-strokes, nor eye catching, blossoming colour. Instead, McGregor conveys a delicate fastidiousness that fits well with the rigid mathematical nature of the hexagon formed by the men's beards.
The beard motif veers dangerously close to becming repetitive, but is saved by the way McGregor uses it to make wry commentary on the status of both facial hair as a marker of identity, but also the status of beard imagery in contemporary culture.
See exhibits A-D to verify this proliferation of beardiness:
McGregor featured in not one but two exhibitions that I missed this year: Sydney's MCA's I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing, which I missed thanks to being bogged down in essays about Baroque Rome; and a solo show at the Helen Gorrie gallery in Melbourne, which was mysteriously closed when I went there during what should have been its opening hours. Needless to say I was a little heartbroken.
(Images from Sullivan+Strumpf Fine Art)