It was always the most delinquent and unruly kids at school who joined the army. Discipline is a form of container, MacGregor exploits this realisation in his paintings to develop a kind of thoughtful militaristic comedy which is able to focus and embody a sort of hapless 'falling apart'. The world that he creates is based on his experience living in Bolivia and representing the life of an army Boot Camp there in a straightforwardly representational manner. Back home, as studio time has passed, this tidy, contained, world has collapsed and mutated, broken out.
Painting has become a kind of 'putting back into the box' discipline, any desertion will be punished – such dynamics become, in MacGregors work, an opportunity for a darkly hilarious and multiplying dramatics, one that fills his paintings with a surreal animation. Figures burst out and climb back in, everything is absurd slapstick in which boundaries are broken and repurposed, in which coordinated scale loses its grip. But the humour and absurdity and play has a painful edge, pathos is the rule in these worlds in which dancing becomes marching about and vice versa.
Statement by Phil King