Art Now Cornwall – Tate Gallery St Ives

Susan Daniel-McElroy writes:

Art Now Cornwall – Tate Gallery St Ives

Since coming down to Cornwall in the mid 1990s, Lisa Wright has been exploring the depiction of children – using her family as a source – to realise a vigorous body of figurative paintings. Trained in the classic tradition at the Royal Academy Schools, she is grounded in the daily discipline of drawing and emotional engagement with her subject.

In her recent expressive paintings of children portrayed against a heightened version of nature at night, it is possible to experience a new sense of space. This is created by the painting as its flat areas of colour seem to expand beyond the canvas to fill architectural space. Wright luxuriates in the colour, texture and fluidity of her medium. Inscribing the paintings’ surfaces and using her brush as a drawing instrument, she heightens this energetic contrast with more thickly painted and textured areas.

Her landscape references are a synthesis of a number of factors which allow her to play with subject, form, colour and space to create works of great theatre and poignancy. Night photography and the glamorous saturated colour that results from its technology together with remembered atmospheres, supernaturally changed places and lighting effects, are several ingredients in the mix. The landscape surrounding her home at Crelly in Cornwall is subject to localised mists sometimes resulting in ‘white-out’ conditions affording her the opportunity to think about nature in monochromatic contrasts such as dark forms against light backgrounds and their reverse.

On close examination of the painting Shadow Branches 2006 it is hard not to also be reminded of the British artist Mark Wallingers’s tender sculpture Ecce Homo which draws inspiration from the artistic tradition of portraying humanity as Christ, the bearer of our sorrows.

Susan Daniel-McElroy was Tate St Ives Artistic Director 2001-2007

© copyright Susan Daniel-McElroy and Tate St Ives, 2007


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