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Acclaimed American artist Gregory Gillespie will interact extensively with Lafayette College students in classes, meetings, and one-on-one sessions during a three-day campus residency April 5-7.

Gillespie is Lafayette's Richard A. and Rissa Grossman Visiting Artist for 1998-99. An exhibition of his works, entitled “Unspeakable Mysteries,” opens April 5 in the Williams Center Gallery. The show will run through April 30. Gallery hours are Monday noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 2-5 p.m.

The artist will give a free, public lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, in room 108 of the Williams Center for the Arts. A reception will follow.

Established in 1992 by Richard Grossman, a 1964 Lafayette graduate, the Grossman Visiting Artist and Exhibition Series gives students opportunities to interact with major 20th-century artists and supports presentation of significant exhibitions. Past Grossman visiting artists include Dorothea Rockburne (1992), Faith Ringgold (1993), Richard Anuszkiewicz (1995), Elizabeth Murray (1996), and Leon Golub (1997).

Born in New Jersey of a manic-depressive mother and alcoholic father, Gillespie's work, marked by a fusion between reality and imagination, examines madness and chaos as well as orthodox views of sin and hell. It attempts to express Gillespie's feelings on a world he considers, in his words, “unspeakably strange.”

Unlike many contemporary artists, Gillespie is drawn to the work of the Old Masters of the Northern Renaissance as well as the Early Italian Renaissance. Influences include Hieronymus Bosch and Jan van Eyck as well as modern painters such as Giorgio de Chirico and Balthus. Gillespie, who says he likes to “mix it up,” also has been influenced by Eastern thought. For the past 30 years, he has studied Buddhism, and Buddhist and Hindu images appear frequently in his work.

Though largely self-taught, Gillespie studied art at the Cooper Union for Advancement of Art and Science in New York and the San Francisco Art Institute during the 1950s and 1960s, and spent several years during the 1960s painting in Italy.

He is the recipient of a Fulbright-Hayes Grant, a Prix de Rome, a Chester Dale Fellowship, and a Tiffany Foundation Grant. His paintings have been exhibited at the Forum Gallery and Cooper Union in New York, the Nielsen Gallery in Boston, J. Rosenthal Fine Arts in Chicago, Harcourts Modern and Contemporary in San Francisco, and in group shows in major museums across the country. His work is in collections at the Metropolitan Museum, The Whitney, the Hirshhorn, the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., and many other national museums.

He lives and paints in southwestern Massachusetts.

Gillespie's residency activities are sponsored by the Richard A. and Rissa Grossman Visiting Artist Residency Series. The Lafayette College exhibition series is presented under provisions of the Detwiller Endowment and is supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For more information, call 610-330-5361.

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