A conversation with Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721)
October 18th - 23rd 2021:
65 Grays Inn Road
These pictures are inspired by, and are a response to, the work of the great English, baroque carver Grinling Gibbons. Sprays and wreathes of oak leaves are used to make intertwining networks, which weave and meander their way across the picture plane. Areas of turbulent and expressively handled paint make a dynamic contrast to the realistically rendered chiaroscuro of the vegetal motif. The pictures allude to the fecund pagan undertow of Gibbons celebration of a bountiful, God-given universe.
To the Temple in the Forest is a series of works on paper in pencil, watercolour and chalk. They record a succession of dream-like images, singular combinations, allusive symbols and fragments of stories.
Studies of elaborate rococo frames and oak-leaf wreaths act as gateways and openings into a sylvan world where strange rituals are enacted. Humans, animals and mythological characters inhabit an Arcadian landscape. This is a realm of half-seen and uncertain imaginings, ambiguous and open to interpretation.
The pictures document various scenes and incidents of a disjointed journey. They are pieces of a map, clues to many possible pathways through a mysterious parallel world.
Albemarle Gallery presents 'Inside the Eye' at ArtMoorHouse in the City of London.
27th January - 4th March 2020
Albemarle Gallery, in collaboration with ArtMoorHouse, is pleased to present ‘Inside the Eye’, a comprehensive survey of recent work by London painter Tim Wright. This includes eight new, large-scale paintings and works on paper, and a selection of pieces from his two preceding exhibitions: Far-seeing Eye (2019) and Into the Deep (2018).
The cavernous gallery at ArtMoorHouse offers an ideal, contemporary Baroque space in which to place the new with its antecedents. Its extensive scale allows a unique opportunity to view this substantial series of paintings and associated drawings.
While Into the Deep offered a series of Baroque frames through which to enter a nebulous world, Far-seeing Eye explored beyond that gateway into a mythical Arcadian location that drew further on motifs inspired by the Baroque master carver, Grinling Gibbons.
The new work is the third stage in that extended journey. Seen here for the first time, these pieces enter more deeply into a dream landscape of heightened imagery that is familiar, but out of joint. There are fragments of scenes or motifs that resist illusion. You are in a world, artificial and strange, where normal rules are suspended.
The works exhibit a contrasting mix of closely-observed motif and gesturally-turbulent passages of rich and subtle colour. Describing both the specific and the general, the artist sets up a personal iconography of significant images, which jump from emphatic focus to veiled suggestion. The combination of forest decor and composition by fragments is unsettling and hints at things hidden from view. This is a mysterious arena of the imagination found beyond the gate and the normal frame of reference. What is one to make of these singular combinations, allusive objects and bits of stories?
The Pontone Gallery 22nd June - 22nd July 2018
'The exhibition presents a journey through the imagined worlds of three British artists. Tim Wright’s portals and openings lead to Kate Tedman’s musings on sign and symbol and then plunge into the fantastic tales of Dolly Thompsett.
Each explores ideas of painting as an opportunity to modify perception and to evoke the experience of being transported to other realms of place and consciousness. These artists enquire into the undiscovered and the hidden. Inciting the viewer’s curiosity, they frame the question: “What on earth do we find here?”
Tim Wright’s fluently seductive paintings deploy a recurring motif — that of an elaborately carved Rococo frame. Together with what is contained, the frame variously suggests an aperture, an eye, a lens or a mirror. It is also a gateway through which information is transmitted and transformed.
The device draws and focusses attention to an inchoate vortex of paint onto which viewers can project their own imaginings. The foliated ellipse sits in a sea of turbulent and expressively-handled paint, whose films, skins and veils articulate the mist, spray and vapour of an elemental and unknown landscape.
The paintings make oblique reference to the disturbing worlds of Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass”, Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” and Turner’s late-period sea-pieces.'
Albemarle Gallery presents: 'Far-seeing Eye'
28 April-11 May 2019
This exhibition develops signature themes featured last year in the Pontone Gallery show, Into the Deep.
In these new paintings and works on paper, I continue to explore the tension between observation and abstraction through a series of motifs - frames, wreaths, garlands - that refer to classical, baroque and rococo models. They act as openings or gateways to other worlds.
While the motifs allude to classical symbols - most notably the leaves of ivy, acanthus and oak - they are deliberately unstable, oscillating between “nature” and artifice, the living and the inanimate. It was certainly not my intention to make straightforward observational paintings of the natural world: the colour green is conspicuously absent from my palette.
Using such florid imagery, I hoped to conjure up the exuberance and abundance of Grinling Gibbons, the English baroque sculptor. In the studio I made models of foliage, which I painted directly, i.e. without resorting to photographs. I combined these on the canvas to make the assemblages and contrivances of the paintings.
The work springs from ideas about the forest, a romantic landscape in which the imagination can act. The synthetic constructions set up fantastical scenarios, which swirl around in a sea of turbulent paint.
A series of paintings of figures stranded on a beach or island. A romantic scenario of isolation and introspective exile, the subjects emerge from a film of turbulent and expressive paint, which articulates the mist, spray and vapour of an elemental landscape.
‘Stranded’ and ‘Swimmer 2’ can be seen at the new exhibition, ‘Imagined Worlds’, at The Pontone Gallery, which runs from the 4th to the 28th of January.
2006 - 2016
A series of paintings of elaborately carved, 'baroque' frames, begun in 2006 and returned to regularly over the years.
The subject has become a symbol for the act of selecting and editing a view.
It is an eye, an aperture and an 'omphalos'.
It refers to the act of painting.
However what is shown within the frame is shifting, indistinct and uncertain.
2007 - 2008
There is a seventeenth century Italian painting in The National Gallery in London of a dead soldier lying flat on his back in a barren landscape. Once erroneously attributed to Velasquez, it was much admired by Edouard Manet, who used the composition for his painting 'The Dead Toreador'.
Initially unaware of this connection, I had often visited the gallery simply to see this painting and similarly used the composition for a series of paintings of contemporary models. The format was ambiguous; is the subject dead or resting? It was isolating and allowed for a good critical distance from the subject. The ostensibly vulnerable pose actually dominates the space of the painting and becomes an example of passive power.
Over the years I have returned again and again to this format.
Several of these paintings of life size subjects and accompanying drawings were exhibited in a one man show in May 2007 at:
'La Viande' Gallery
3 Charlotte Road
2010 - 2014
This is a group of large scale drawings of single figures produced over a number of years, principally spanning 2010-2014. Individual drawings have been shown in many exhibitions.
They feature male and female models, several familiar from other paintings.
The models are subject to careful scrutiny, rendered in charcoal, chalk, pencil and watercolour.
They are images of solitary observation, watchfulness and distraction. The subject is sometimes aware of the viewers' gaze, sometimes not.
This is a series of figures fascinated by their self-absorption. Some are hieratic, derived from baroque and rococo models, engaged in ritual performance. They have an air of self containment, pre-occupied by their exclusive observations, whatever they are looking at only serves to reflect their image.
May - June 2016
These paintings featured in the inaugural exhibition at The Pontone Gallery’s new space at:
43 Cadogan Gardens
This is a series of paintings of nude figures in a landscape, a schematic and loosely rendered grove, the classical setting for many mythological encounters.
The figures interact : they gesture, look, and engage in a dialogue that could be conspiratorial. There is a sense of something about to happen, that they are anticipating an event or planned enterprise, or are challenging each other. In some instances, the figures are paired with themselves, suggesting that this dialogue is internal and dreamlike.
A selection of these works were shown September - October 2015 in ‘British and Italian Painting’ at:
49 Albemarle Street
These are images of detachment, absorption and pre-occupation.
My attention was caught by the seventeenth century artist Abraham Bosse's 'Les Perspecteurs', which shows figures engaged in perspective experiments, paying no heed to their wider surroundings, or others.
I thought I would make some work similarly describing figures intent on a internal process, investigating or thinking about their unique view of the world.
The subjects, for the most part, gaze off into the middle distance, pensive and uninterested in their surroundings, or they closely consider an object within their immediate orbit.
In some cases they are accompanied by others, or by different versions of themselves, who are equally self absorbed.
The work on paper, 'HS', was a prizewinning exhibit in the Derwent Art Prize in September 2016 at The Mall Galleries, London.
The painting 'Horizon' was exhibited in The National Open Art Competition in October 2016 at The Mercers Hall, London.
Friday, 3rd October until Saturday, 25th October 2014
49 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4JR
I had been looking at Godfrey Kneller's 'Kit-Cat Club' portraits of 48 eminent English gentlemen, painted in the early eighteenth century. All half-lengths of a standard size, (so as to make no subject more important than another), when seen as group they become a kind of installation of portraiture. One feels surrounded by 'an architecture of personality'.
This exhibition was inspired by Kneller's group of paintings and sought to create a modern version, with the welcome addition of female subjects.
Thursday, 26th June until Sunday 21st September
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
London WC2H 0HE
Some time ago I was engaged as painting consultant for the forthcoming Mike Leigh directed film 'Mr. Turner'. I worked with the principal actor, Timothy Spall, teaching him to draw and paint in preparation for his leading role as J.M.W. Turner. I worked closely with Tim in my studio and, eventually, on location and film set. His accomplished performance is testament to his dedication to, and interest in, the artist, his life and his method. Once filming was over, he modelled for this painting.
Saturday 9th until Saturday 30th November
49 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4JR
Wright's accurate, beautifully realised compositions feature a wonderfully contemporary cast of unknowns. Wright's groups of figures are created from singular studies of his models, which he then assembles and reassembles in endless variations. In so doing he creates composite and temporary societies of strangers, which are at once complementary and conflicting, relaxed yet awkward. His figures - with the idiosyncrasies of their poise perfectly captured - speak of the subtlety of human interactions and of the self-consciousness of social settings.
Tuesday 6th until Sunday 11th November
The Gallery in Redchurch St
50 Redchurch Street
London E2 7DP
Figurative painter Tim Wright reassembles his cast of characters in an unspecified interior space. They bide their time in seemingly empty moments. In a series of interludes the painter studies how they negotiate their social awkwardness. By tracing their gestures and body language he reveals a subtle interaction, layered with art historical allusion, redolent of a drama without words. The paintings explore the atmosphere of the heavy pause with all its potential and threat.
"We have kept our appointment and that's an end to that."
Tuesday 22nd until Sunday 27th November
The Gallery in Redchurch St
50 Redchurch Street
London E2 7DP
In this reaffirmation of portrait painting and the power of the individual, Tim Wright takes a contemporary cast of full-length, clothed figures and assembles them to reveal their splendid isolation. The subjects are combined and recombined in indeterminate social spaces - "like people plonked in a room with people they don't know" - without injuring their integrity.
Against the spirit of the age, Wright eschews celebrity subjects and cropped images in favour of a classical tradition of portraiture which privileges the body, the clothed form and the painted surface. While the characters may be drawn from obscurity, they assume roles which show off their inner and outer lives in life-size grandeur. By insisting on full scale, Wright sets up and proposes that appreciation can best be derived from a critical distance.
This is portraiture that starts with flesh and blood and alchemises into a virtuous reality of paint, layered with the past.
"The proper study of Mankind is Man"
(Alexander Pope, Essay on Man)
Christina Hemsley 2011