Reid’s Savvy Subversion

Painter relishes putting grotesque spins on pleasing styles


Founding Team Macho member Lauchie Reid graces Narwhal with new, deliciously idiosyncratic paintings. Painstakingly crafted in the classical idiom, Reid’s works subvert staid portraiture with dissonant elements that hint at hidden historical and social narratives.

He delights in upending pleasant period pieces with elements of the grotesque and the hidden. For instance, his lovely white-capped portrait of a figure in a blue tunic recalls the soft palette of a Vermeer, but the face is a hideously disfigured and eyeless mask reminiscent of Gary Oldman’s character in Hannibal. This is part of the destabilizing magic of Reid’s paintings.

By blending hints of pop with elements of fantasy and classical art, he neatly pulls the rug out from under us. A group portrait of Victorian women wearing scold’s bridles tells its story bluntly. The devices, which prevented their wearers from speaking, were used on poor, outspoken women whose tongues were feared and seen as troublesome.

Team Macho has worked extensively with collage, and Reid’s paintings mashing up past and present can be seen as another form of appropriation. In his fierce self-portrait in a classic 18th-century ball gown, a ferret skull in his hands, he wears his contradictions proudly, following their dream logic wherever it may lead.

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By David Jager