The medium, so heavily weighed down by traditions, and having so often been declared dead throughout the 20th century, is never just explored for its own sake; Wright reinterprets and revitalizes the painting through the visual culture which characterizes our age. A web of black/white photographs – cut-outs from found magazines or pulled from the internet – of pin-up girls, cowboys, 60s film stars, naked athletes and posing models from the 80s, sinks into Wright’s collage-paintings, together with his cartoonish figures and grinning grim reaper, a psychopomp used as a symbols for traveling between different planes of consciousness. Wright reworks and overpaints these disparate parts with gestural brushstrokes and soft airbrush in bold or synthetic technicolor. His visual explorations on board and paper – zines, prints, t-shirts or found materials – is never limited to one specific medium, nor is it syntactic or hierarchic. He cross-pollinates, combines and is constantly working on several projects and pieces at once.
The heavily layered paintings are accompanied by fragmented sentences, from pre-existing texts or hand-written in zine-aesthetic fonts, forming new subversive statements like “pose,” “you are not it,” “I see God in Everything” or “I’ve suffered my whole life for you, an’ waddaya do? Ya run away.” Operating like a bootlegger of visual culture, Wright lifts the hijacked images and words out of their original context and, as a strategic détournement, into his own world. A strange, fabulating, sometimes horrifying, yet always surprising, poetic visual vocabulary.
Try focusing on each of the small photographs or figures, reappearing across the different works, and your eyes will flicker. The flickering effect is most remarkable in the largest collage-painting, Dreamachine Usage (2020). In the center of the propeller-like composition, a male gaze meets you. Around him, a mosaic of fragmented black/white miniature photographs breaks through the reddish airbrush-filter, like surfers on the shore. A kaleidoscopic effect recalling Brion Gysin’s avantgarde light-cylinder Dreamachine (1961). On a wavy synthetically colored horizon, four grim reapers laugh with empty black eyes, as grotesques on a frieze. The obsession with the pose (poses abound in the clippings) becomes a transformation of action into gesture, or of “prowess into pose” (to use Barbara Kruger’s words). In front of Wright’s painting, the viewer is displaced and led to think: who is really posing here?
Wright’s paintings are above all transgressive; they are not restrained by their frames, but go beyond, and become part of an entire lifeworld. As a wide web of visual thoughts and ideas, structures and patterns, endless leaps of associations and conjunctions, abstract and figurative elements, the exhibition transforms the downstairs gallery into an immersive, hermetic environment of visual confusion that counteracts the sterile fluorescent light. Fragmented narratives of nonsense and wonder develop with sustained attention.