Jason Greig graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1985, with Honours in Engraving. He studied printmaking under Barry Cleavin and went on to teach the next generation at both Otago and Canterbury. Primarily a printmaker, Greig exhibits his lithographs, monoprints, drawings, paintings and etchings, both here and internationally, on an annual basis. His work is held in numerous private and public collections including the National Art Gallery, Wellington; Hocken Library in Dunedin; the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Aigantighe Art Gallery in Timaru.
In 2006 the Christchurch Art Gallery hosted a survey exhibition of his work The Devil Made Me Do It which showcased the artist’s monoprints, executed over a thirteen year period.1 His work has been described as ‘grim’ and ‘highly imaginative’ and the artist himself has been described as ‘a technical virtuoso’.2 Greig takes inspiration from Gothic literature including the dark tales of Edgar Allen Poe (“The Fall of the House of Usher” 1839) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). Recently, Greig completed a series of monoprints and letter press relief prints in response to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). He is also a musician playing a Fender Stratocaster in the band, Into the Void.
Gerald Barnett writes:
Greig makes predominantly black and white drawings and prints that share a lineage with Odilon Redon’s Noirs, the prison etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos.3
Greig brings to life what Baudelaire described as “the ungraspable…. dreams with which our sleep is periodically besieged”. Thus his imagery is dark, wrought, sometimes disturbing, unbalancing. In Greig’s work for his 2011 exhibition at gallery thirty three, the grim reaper is a woman; Eve is a hallowed gothic bride; his devils have wings. Greig’s works are dark: tonally, metaphorically and symbolically. Contemplation of Greig’s images entails looking into oneself – right into that morbid recess where fear supposedly lies dormant, the fears and anxieties that children are taught to suppress. Suppress them one might, but they can neither be erased nor extinguished. Greig’s etchings and lithographs of lone figures in hell, for example, make manifest the darkness that lies in the soul of so many. They’re gloriously haunting.
1 The Devil Made Me Do It (2006) curated by Felicity Milburn and inspired by Owen Marshall’s story of this name. Within this exhibition Milburn explored the concept of the south island myth / gothic
2 Peter Vangioni, http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/media/uploads/2010_08/Greig-Devil.pdf, accessed 01 June 2011