Crusader of Art

Meeting artist Gregory McKechnie at Morgen Contemporary Gallery, I am struck by his unremarkable appearance – that of any middle-aged Berliner. Perhaps because his work is so vivid, outlandish and colorful, I was expecting a character with a more outwardly eccentric appearance, but reflecting upon this now it was a foolish notion. During our conversation we touch upon the same topic, McKechnie explaining how his eclectic mix of life experiences has affected his creative development: “I’ve met a lot of different types of people, and when you’re really into spirituality, the first thing you have to start with is that you don’t get too much into prejudices, and that you start to see on the inside how you interact with people.”

Such openness is a skill that the artist has honed after years of working in a range of fields, including the military and the banking sector, again not something that I would have initially expected. This diversity in experiences has greatly influenced McKechnie’s work, and in his view resulted in a more rounded perspective – “I think it’s really helpful that in my life I wasn’t only in one scene but other ones, so I’ve experienced different types of people.”

From the Army to Adornment

Following his nine month compulsory military service stint in Germany and his banking apprenticeship, McKechnie went on to study philosophy and economics. I wonder how his more creative side dealt with this; he elaborates, “during those studies I developed my own jewellery label. I worked for this and then started designing for other labels like Comme Des Garcons.” He explains that although he was studying economics, not a field typically noted for its creativity, that “I always had these two sides inside of me but at some stage I had to decide which side to focus on. Even when I was in the bank I was still painting and drawing, and I kind of lived the philosophy of Sartre to experience everything – to experience two sides like the creative one and the ‘dark’ banking one. Those are my experiences and I wouldn’t miss them, though I feel like I’m more comfortable in the creative side.”

McKechnie's NoolandA glimpse of work in “Nooland,” Mckechnie’s current exhibition. Photo: Chris Phillips  

McKechnie’s comfort in creativity comes as no surprise when viewing his work at Morgen Contemporary, a beautiful blend of nature, humanity and spirituality in the form of collages of fantastical creatures. He explains the complex notion behind these, revealing, “for me art is just like a channel to express a story I’m working on called Nooland.” Relating to the work of Russian geologist Vladimir Vernadsky and French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, the Noosphere simply put is a “sphere of human thought.” Mckenchie illuminates this further, “Teilhard de Chardin’s concept is that there’s a room in the universe like a virtual membrane laying around the earth, where everybody – every human every animal every plant everything – is connected through their mind and their consciousness. Everything is possible, and all your thoughts and feelings get physical in a way; for example if you think of a rabbit with pink teeth and the rabbit is blue – it exists actually there.”

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