Lemay's new series is titled, "Big Screen TV." He is using his grid technique to highlight the digital. These days oil paintings often compete for wall space with big screen TVs and this series plays with that reality.
In his series, "Grid," he paints square by square, row by row. The painting may appear digitized but is meticulously hand painted. He's always used the grid to scale up photos but leaving traces of the process creates a tension between the image and the squares of tone and colour which are reassembled by the eye. Lemay think about Gerhard Richter as he makes all those choices in each square of the grid – deciding how much and where to blur things. Each square ends up being an abstract painting in a way.
Lemay has always used the grid, as artists since the Renaissance have done to scale up their images, though in these paintings he's allowed it to be seen. In the modern era the grid becomes a subject unto itself underscoring the abstraction. The frontality and regularity of the grid has been explored as a separate subject matter in contemporary art by such artists as Chuck Close, Brice Marden, and Agnes Martin.
Lemay's row by row construction of a realist image is meant to reveal the abstraction of the paint handling, the history of the technique, and to connect these with a contemporary digital environment.
Robert Lemay is interested in the layers of transformations – from the transformation of the model, to the photoshopped image, which then becomes a ubiquitous image seen in grocery store aisles and on coffee tables. Unlike the mass produced glossy magazine cover, paint is a kind of skin, a unique surface.
The use of 'found' imagery echoes Warhol's use of tabloid photographs of Liz, Marilyn and Elvis and also the early paintings of Gerhard Richter who also employed the strategy of using newspaper images as his source material.