16 January - 19 February 2020
Josh Lilley is pleased to announce Hard-light Hologram, British painter Vicky Wright’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.
In work and life, Vicky Wright has long addressed the apparatus of power: labour and mobilization in the industrial north of England; patriarchy and its effect on opportunity; the provisional relationship between technology and planet earth; basic humanity under capitalism. Painting has proven to be a map upon which she can summon the furthest points of these arguments, allowing the full spectrum of emotions to come through. Dense and unlike other contemporary painting, Wright’s work could be intimidating if its passion wasn’t so clear.
Hard light Hologram represents a departure for Wright’s process. Leading the viewer through the charged landscape of historical painterly idioms, the pioneering ideologies of abstraction, cubism, orphism, and surrealism become props in a theatrical tableau. In the suite of works made for this exhibition, the pure unconscious reveals itself, readily, with faces and figures emerging from strokes and whorls that were first just movement, just gesture. Art history inserts itself, with fuzzy, scumbled areas in pastel hues announcing family ties to the ethereal fields of Impressionism, or with Symbolist orbs rolling into view. Problems arise, and remain problems, neither damned nor resolved: the flayed figure of Alberto Giacometti’s wildly misog- ynistic Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932) tangles its way into a frenzied composition, and won’t go away. Figuration leans at times towards the cartoonish, the cute realm of chaotic violence that ends without death or consequence, simply resetting itself. Wonder is a given in these works, and conclusions can zap into focus mid-sentence, not necessarily telegraphed by punctuation. They function as thought functions.
For 20 years Wright has painted faithfully without force, confident that her elements will properly arrange themselves. In several paintings in this exhibition, a young girl appears. She is an observer and an oracle, with no judgements to make of the universe. “Women are constructed in adolescence rather than, as men are, at birth,” Wright states. “She is vulnerable, but she is a reliable narrator.” With this girl, Wright shrugs off polemics and the phantoms of learned prejudice that harden into statues of belief. Through the example of her practice, she offers another character. In 2020, desperate for answers but wary of authority, this may be the narrator we need.
Vicky Wright (b. 1967, Bolton, UK) completed her MFA at Goldsmiths College, London in 2008. She has mounted solo exhibitions at Josh Lilley in 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2010, and at COMMA Bloomberg SPACE, London, in 2009. In 2018 she presented a solo installation for Josh Lilley’s first presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong. Selected group exhibitions include 21st Century Women, Unit, London, 2018; Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, London, 2014; Asymmetric Dance Class, Vitrine Gallery, London, 2014; Deceptions of the Eye: Special Effects in Contemporary Art, Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven, 2014; The Hecklers, New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall, 2013; The Dorian Project, Second Guest, New York, 2012; Paintings, Max Wi- gram Gallery, London, 2012; and Among Flesh, Alison Jacques Gallery, London, 2011. She will participate in Emotionarama, a nationally touring exhibition curated by Andrew Hunt, opening at PEER, London, in April 2020. Wright was featured as one of ArtReview’s 2015 Future Greats.