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); and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2013). Current commissions include a large-scale gold-leaf work for the Crossrail in London at the new Tottenham Court Road station, opening in December 2018.
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.
Wright lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.
Extended through December 18, 2015
September 29–December 18, 2015
September 1–October 3, 2009
Davies Street, London
January 26–March 5, 2005
980 Madison Avenue, New York
September 10–October 26, 2002
Heddon Street, London
From the Quarterly
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 by Balazs Studinger