Born and raised in Wayland, MA, Owen Gray moved to New York in 1975 to study with Nicholas Carone and Leland Bell at The Studio School. The New York Times critic Ken Johnson, The New York Observer critic Mario Naves and The New Republic critic Jed Perl have all reviewed his paintings. He currently splits his time between his home in Tribeca, New York City and his studio in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Floating parrots, flying mandolins and cactus-headed figures evolve into one another, twist and turn into moments of abstraction in Gray's fantastical scenes. Ranging from shellfish to hot air balloons, his subjects are inspired by his travels to the Southwest and Florida as well as his time drawing specimens from life in zoos, gardens and natural history museums. He directs these objects, animals and figures spiraling through sky and swimming through swamps, creating sensational compositions. The exaggerated lighting, compositional intricacies and baroque dynamism are influenced by old masters such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel.
In 1996 I took a trip to Florida, which inspired a series of paintings of the Everglades, including the tropical foliage and swampy terrain inhabited by reptiles such as snakes, alligators, and turtles. This trip commenced an ongoing thematic interest in animals, wildlife and the environment.
Over the years, I have continued this visual research of creatures and animals with regular visits to the Bronx Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History, here in New York. I look around and find visual inspiration from what I see, transforming the elements into a fantasy world where floating parrots, flying mandolins, and cactus-headed figures evolve into one another. I am attracted to the dramatic light of open skies, which my imagination inhabits with spiraling falling objects, animals, and creatures. I am fascinated by aquatic swampy realms teeming with life, which offer the possibility of sensational compositions. The exaggerated lighting, compositional intricacies and Baroque dynamism of the old masters such as Giovanni Batista Tiepolo, Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Bruegel have influenced me.