Richard Wright is best known for his site-specific yet transient works that unite painting with graphic and typographic elements, charging architectural spaces with a fourth dimension of subtle yet extreme optical complexity and subverting the traditionally static dynamic between painting and viewer. His paintings and applied metal-leaf schemes connote memory and ephemerality—these works are short-lived, oftentimes lasting only as long as the exhibition. Alongside works on interior surfaces such as walls and ceilings, Wright’s works on paper encompass a range of handmade prints, ink drawings, gilding, and watercolors. More recently, Wright has installed leaded glass into existing window or skylight apertures, allowing the work to meld with the fabric of the building. These interventions, utilizing various mediums, serve to shift the viewer’s perception of the space. As Sofia Karamani commented in her text for the Turner Prize in 2009:
“Wright’s profound understanding of art and its history is reflected in his diverse imagery; minimalist patterns and baroque ornamentations to gothic iconography and typography. His wall paintings can occupy whole rooms, appearing convoluted and extensive, to create a sublime impact. Others, subtle and delicate, are awkwardly placed, claiming a modest existence on a ceiling, a cornice, the edge of a wall. As Wright invents alternative spatial arrangements, solid structures can look broken up, reconfigured, or seem transparent and fluid.”
Wright was born in 1960 in London. The first solo exhibition of his work took place in 1994 at Transmission Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. His work has been shown in major exhibitions worldwide since, including Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2001); Tate Liverpool, England (2001); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (2004); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2005); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2008); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); Theseus Temple, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2013); and Walk through British Art, Tate Britain, London (2013). In addition to permanent private commissions, Wright’s public institutional commissions include the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2007); Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, England (2007); Dean Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); The Millbank Project at Tate Britain, London (2011–13); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2013), Drawing Biennial, Oslo (2014); and Queen’s House, London (2016).
Wright was awarded the Turner Prize in 2009 and is considered one of the key artists in the generation that emerged out of Glasgow in the 1990s, together with Martin Boyce, Douglas Gordon, and Simon Starling.In 2016 Wright was commissioned to make a vast permanent gold leaf work for the 400th anniversary of the Inigo Jones-designed Queen’s House (now part of the Royal Museums Greenwich), which was the first fully Classically designed building in the UK. Wright’s work cloaks the whole ceiling and upper walls of the Great Hall.
In 2018 he was commissioned by the Crossrail Art Programme to make a vast ceiling work more than eighty feet long at Tottenham Court Road station for London’s new Elizabeth railway line, projected to open in 2022.
Wright lives and works in Norfolk, England, and Glasgow, Scotland.
Behind the Art
In an interview with Kay Pallister, the artist explains his relationship to drawing and the importance of time in his site-specific works.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019
The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher on its cover.
Louise Neri discusses the artist’s new exploration of glass works.
West Bund Art & Design 2022
November 11–13, 2022, booth A102
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in the ninth edition of West Bund Art & Design. The gallery will present new works made for the fair by Georg Baselitz, Roe Ethridge, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Harmony Korine, Adam McEwen, Jim Shaw, Alexandria Smith, Spencer Sweeney, and Tatiana Trouvé, alongside works by Ashley Bickerton, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Ugo Rondinone, Ed Ruscha, Richard Wright, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at West Bund Art & Design 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Adam McEwen, © Roe Ethridge, © Alex Israel, © Harmony Korine. Photo: JJYPHOTO
Elizabeth Line, London
Richard Wright’s no title (2018) has been installed on the ceiling of the Tottenham Court Road station’s eastern ticket hall as part of the Transport for London (TfL) Elizabeth Line, which opened for service on May 25, 2022. To make this work, Wright and his team painstakingly applied gold leaf to the raw concrete ceiling in an intricate geometric pattern whose reflectivity fluctuates depending on the ambient light. At seven stations on the Elizabeth Line, the Crossrail Art Programme commissioned public artworks that have been designed to interact both physically and conceptually with their sites.
Richard Wright’s no title (2018) installed on the ceiling of the Tottenham Court Road station’s eastern ticket hall, London, 2022. Artwork © Richard Wright. Photo: GG Archard, 2022
The Art of Wishes 2019
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Royal Horticultural Halls, London
Founded by philanthropist and Make‐A‐Wish UK patron Batia Ofer, the third annual Art of Wishes will feature a benefit auction to raise money for Make-A-Wish UK, a nonprofit organization that grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses. In advance of the charity event, a preview of the artworks will be open to the public from September 19 to 20 at Phillips London in Berkeley Square. More than twenty artworks by leading international artists such as Virgil Abloh, Michael Craig‐Martin, Takashi Murakami, Richard Wright, and others will be included.
Richard Wright, Untitled, 2002 © Richard Wright
Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line
March 13–May 6, 2018
Whitechapel Gallery, London
Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line showcases nine internationally renowned artists and their plans to create major public artworks for London’s newest railway, the Elizabeth line. Each artist has been commissioned to create a work of art sympathetic to the locality, history, or function of one of the stations. The exhibition brings together sketches, maquettes, and prototypes to reveal the artists’ ideas transformed into deliverable public art. Work by Douglas Gordon and Richard Wright is included.
Douglas Gordon, Revue, 2018 © Studio lost but found/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Photo: Balazs Studinger