Writing on the wall
Showing in Edinburgh alongside Paul Morrison, RICHARD WRIGHT uses the gallery walls as his canvas. Words: Moira Jeffrey
White gallery walls may seem blank but are often densely layered like geological deposits. Constantly painted and repainted. they bear many marks and memories of the works they have supported. Future archaeologists might peel back the strata of white emulsion at Edinburgh’s lnverleith House to reveal the wall drawings of Richard Wright and Paul Morrison circa June I999. - This month. the two artists will each take one floor of the gallery in what promises to be the most exciting exhibition of the year to date. Although their work is very different in nature. the pair have shown together to acclaim in New York’s Drawing Center and as part of the group show Surfacing at London’s lCA. Morrison. a London-based painter. has met with critical success since completing post-graduate studies at Goldsmith’s in I998. His playful monochrome landscapes recall pop art. op art and the work of Patrick Caulfield. Morrison’s work will include one wall drawing made on site in the gallery. Glasgow-based artist Richard Wright is rigorous and thoughtful. His entire show is being created in situ. during a period of two weeks’ intensive hard work. With a reputation that’s growing internationally. Wright currently creates site-speciﬁc work in pencil and gouache. He has a self-confessed ‘tendency to paint’ and found. over the years. that the change of cultural climate and the accelerated pace of
'Painting is so dumb and so intractable. I suppose that's one of the things I like about it.’
Wall painting (detail) by Richard Wright
modern living had made traditional painting an anachronistic pursuit.
‘I think, for me. art always has to have a fragile position in relation to culture. always has to be problematic — in a way. edgy.’ he says. ‘Because of painting’s authority. historically. it is very difﬁcult for it to occupy that position.’
Wright’s current work is a quest to resolve these problems. His wall drawings are modest in their claims and subtle in form. which paradoxically gives his work an unusual clarity and strength. His images may be complex abstractions or familiar archetypes. His fragile surfaces are deliberately made in the knowledge they won’t last - at the end of a show they will be painted over or could be washed off. The result suggests all the possibilities of painting at the same time as revealing its limitations.
‘Painting is so dumb and so intractable,‘ he explains. ‘I suppose that’s one of the things I like about it. No matter how fast your ideas are. how much you are trying to make links with things.’
The hallmark of Wright’s work is his utter lack of complacency; he is not content until he can surprise himself. ‘I like to draw up something into the mixture that doesn’t fit. that makes me have to take notice. Then it is about finding that thing, the extra thing that belongs here — in this particular space?
Even then he is not content simply to stand still. to be ‘the guy who does wall drawings‘. He is determined to keep learning and growing. ‘I am only at the beginning. I feel that work I want to do is just around the corner. I can imagine the room. but I can’t quite find the door.’
As he produces his work at lnverleith House, Wright’s search for the way through is tangible. his drawings as multi-layered as the white ground they stand on.
Richard Wright and Paul Morrison. lnverleith House. Edinburgh, from Sat 19 Jun.
Who’s making an exhibition of themself?
WHILE THIS YEAR'S solar eclipse won't be visible from Edinburgh, residents and visitors can look forward to some lunar activity in the Hillend area in 2001. Sightings of a shimmering disc of light on the Midlothian hillside are expected - thanks to the intervention of artist Marcus Taylor, whose work was seen in the city as part of the 1995 British Art Show. Taylor begins a residency at Heriot-Watt University Physics Department this month. With financial support from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund, he will research and develop the project - entitled Pentland Moon - an ambitious collaboration between art and science.
GLASGOW GRAPHIC DESIGN student Gary Learie has won top prize in a design competition organised by film and TV industry guide The Knowledge. Learie, a third year student at Glasgow School of Art, was presented with his prize by My Name Is Joe star Louise Goodall at a celebration lunch at Glasgow's Tron Theatre.
EDINBURGH’S STILLS GALLERY will open a photographic and electronic imaging education and training resource in October of this year, thanks to a substantial capital donation from a private benefactor. A rolling programme of events and workshops will benefit schools and community groups, as well as support artists in Scotland in the production of their work.
THE CHANGING ROOM in Stirling continues to provide a much-needed space for artists and audience in the Central Belt. The Gallery has introduced a small bookshop, while September's project 12 Artists/One Month will see artistic activity on an unprecedented scale. Twelve artists with local connections will make use of gallery facilities during an intensive period of work and discussion. Proposals for the event are invited. The submissions deadline is Thu 17 Jun. Call 01786 479361 for further information. (Moira Jeffrey)
10—24 Jun 1999 TIIE U817!