Born in Sydney, the work of Australian artist James McGrath takes as its starting point Baroque painting and architectural traditions. The artist deftly navigates an accomplished old master technique with contemporary materials and innovative spatial techniques, simultaneously deconstructing the notion of the Baroque original and modernising it.

In 2010, McGrath was granted special access to the Strahov Baroque Monastic Library in Prague. Set within this notable historic building, the monastery's ornate libraries hold over 125,000 volumes of the world's best collections of philosophical and theological texts. McGrath studies of these centuries old parchments, illuminated manuscripts and first editions, form the basis of his latest body of work, ‘Ex Libris’. It is against this timeless backdrop that McGrath overlays his recurring flora-and-fauna motifs, presenting a heightened, surrealistic vision of this potent visual world.

McGrath studied the techniques and principles of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century masters at the studio school of Patrick Betaudier in Paris. Before graduating as an architect he worked as a studio assistant with Australia’s greatest expressionist painter, Arthur Boyd. While a lecturer at New South Wales University he was awarded several prizes for architecture and art, including the Australian Postgraduate Award and a residency in Paris. Over the last ten years he has exhibited in New York, London, Sydney and Paris. He has also produced highly original digital installations and videos commissioned by several Australian museums and subsequently presented at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in 2000.

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