Lisa Wright’s paintings are conceived with a mix of historical knowledge and discipline with drawing. After studying at The Royal Academy Schools, London, 1990-1993, Wright moved to Cornwall, in the south west of England, where she currently lives and works. We speak to the artist about her the processes behind her works and compositional intentions.
A: Your work features a lot of stark contrasts – with pale palettes standing out against dark and striking backgrounds. Can you talk a bit about what drives your work in terms of what you intend for the audience and how the contrasting style comes into play within this?
LW: The figure remains the focus of my practise and allows me to explore the universal dialogue of childhood. I am intrigued by the impact and drama of light illuminating a subject and casting it’s shadows- different qualities of light have the ability to alter our emotional state. I want the viewer to be lured by these qualities in my work and I hope to stir emotions and leave an enduring residue.
A: How do you see painting evolving in a world where there are new and diverse opportunities for contemporary artists, in other words, what it is about the medium that you work in that you find endures against others?
LW: Painting is a slow art. The process allows for evolution- an artist can open up a creative ‘dialogue’ with a piece of work in progress and ultimately this can lead to new creative territory. Each layer of paint is an attempt to discover a kind of truth. A successful painting imbues an ‘otherness’ and has the ability to alter our emotional states.
Other art disciplines have this power, however, for me, the seductive nature of paint is the most enduring.
A: A lot of your works feature similar compositions, and a focus on anonymous figure. How do you begin to create a piece? Do you bear this composition in mind or do you think more about the process of your medium?
LW: It always begins with drawing- from life, from memory and from other sources. Ideas evolve from engaging with this process. Format, scale and balance are formally considered, however this is simply a starting point. A painting may begin with a clear composition, but this is likely to change considerably- elements are added and erased until everything comes into alignment. The alchemy of creating a painting should not be too unravelled.
A: Is there a central thematic or conceptual aspect to your artworks which follows through a series, or do you have a more diverse approach to emotion/theme?
LW: For a good number or years my work has been concerned with various aspects of childhood. In recent work I have been exploring universal historical threads:- ideas that talk of the complexities of adolescence which have remained remarkably unchanged across the centuries, despite the ephemeral nature of this stage of life.
A: Who is your main inspiration for your work? Is there an artist which has driven you to explore the medium of painting?
LW: There have been many diverse influences on my practice over the years, however Vermeer and Velazquez have remained constants. Influences can often appear in the most surprising form, therefore I try to remain open and receptive to all that surrounds me.
A: What are your plans for the future?
LW: I am exhibiting new work in New York at CONTEXT with Coates & Scarry gallery. I am currently working on a project which explores my recent fascination with historical miniatures. These jewel like pieces were presented as private tokens of attachment. They were also especially valuable in introducing potential suitors. I see similar contemporary crossovers in how young people now engage with social media.
Find out more about her work www.lisawrightartist.co.uk
1. Lisa Wright. Courtesy of Max Surridge.