It is of course, very easy to just cut ‘n paste the information, borrow the previews, just stick them here for you to digest, and indeed why the hell not? Opinions cost time and time is of the essence and Interweaving motifs and ideas from historical paintings with contemporary concerns, Lisa Wright’s work moves between and through different times. What a glorious Wednesday. Some days there’s time for a thought-out considered review (or a quickly thrown together no-time-to-proof-read places-to-be review) and sometimes words need to be ‘borrowed’, shared, cut, pasted down, stuck here with the strongest Pritt and left to inform about a forthcoming event that stimulates us enough to make us want to share it with you (we do this all for you you know), and Lisa Wright does have a certain refined understated style that makes us want to see this show in the flesh next week. Organ, in this blog-like form is simply about signposts and pointing you at things and today we wish to point you at Lisa Wright’s show at Gallery 8 next week (sw)
Interweaving motifs and ideas from historical paintings with contemporary concerns, Lisa Wright’s work moves between and through different times.
Often isolated, the figures within Wright’s paintings and drawings hover on the brink of adulthood. Their childish faces, flushed cheeks and rounded bellies are at odds with the fragments of formal, adult, decorative clothing – ribbons, ruffs and petticoats – that adorn their predominantly unclothed bodies. The complex, in-between era of puberty is explored through the emotional and physical vulnerability of the figures, and adolescent elegance, confidence, awkwardness and defiance are exposed.
Puberty heightens everything. Emotions are intensified, the insignificant is magnified and the importance of the presentation of the self, of body image, predominates. One can identify details within Wright’s paintings that are curiously heightened and often sensual: the bright red rim of an ear; a single translucent bow fixed to a naked chest; the uncomfortable shyness of the placing of a young girl’s clasped hands.
Many of the figures wear simple black or white masks, reminiscent of Venetian carnival masks. These were held in place by the mouth, preventing eating, kissing and speaking, rendering the wearer somewhat passive and mute. Formally these devices ‘interrupt’ the figures and add to the paintings’ startling and unsettling focal points, emphasising the search for identity and construction of the self that is so critical during puberty. Likewise, the title of the exhibition, ‘The Unversed’, alludes to the figures lacking the language, skills and experience to express themselves or to describe their experiences adequately. Instead, emotions and ideas are untold: lives remaining in a state of anticipation and a state of potential.
Wright’s paintings are developed from a variety of sources. Drawings are made from life and (if necessary) from reproductions of historical paintings such as those by the eighteenth-century painters Pietro Longhi and Jean-Antoine Watteau and, most importantly from repeated drawing expeditions to study works in place at historical collections held by institutions like the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection.
Following these initial studies, ideas are then worked through in rigorous and intuitive drawing sessions, using different materials on different scales, both on paper and canvas. Her remarkable drawing skills and deft handling of paint are apparent in the use of thick, rich, buttery strokes, descriptive drips of paint, looser brushwork and extremely delicate, fine detailing. The effect is emphasised by Wright’s careful balancing of both figurative and abstracted elements, while her remarkably vivid and saturated palette locates the subjects in the present moment. (Words by Anneka French)