Review – The Garments of the Dominators 1 June -6 July 2012 Josh Lilley Gallery
Josh Lilley Gallery, situated on Riding House Street in Fitzrovia, is always willing to push the boundaries of traditional art forms. Stepping away from their latest preference for exhibiting sculpture by recent fine art school graduates, the gallery presents an unconventional show with painted works by Vicky Wright.
Another professional, cleanly presented show by the gallery, “The Garments of the Dominators” is the second solo exhibition by British artist Vicky Wright. With this recent series of large-scale painted works, Wright questions power structures that disseminate information, and addresses how such propaganda comes pre-filtered to the masses, presented in an unrecognisable, distorted form. Using oil on wood panel and crate, Wright’s abstract works emit cryptic visual messages that challenge the confines of traditional painting.
Having witnessed the violence of London’s social upheaval last year, Wright draws on philosophical links and abstraction to illuminate current power struggles. Her paintings equally refer to an anonymous conspiracy text written in a bus stop, citing secret organisations that control the population with warped truths. These works thus serves as both a tribute to this anonymous apocalyptic author, and an act of highlighting society’s breakdown in communication. The gallery describes her artistic efforts as a “sincere but satirical examination into such apocalyptic writings”.
Visually, the works are unassuming and remarkably modest – perhaps even light-hearted. Wright presents dreamy, surrealist images in taupe, noir and off-whites, captivating the viewer with their simple pallet, and enthralling with a varied and active composition. Concealing the potent back-story that prompted their creation, these paintings fundamentally express how easily information can be distorted. Similarly, their obscure, non-dimensional backgrounds refuse penetration of the viewer’s gaze, and reveal little about where these visuals originate or exist.
Preferring the reverse of the canvas, Wright paints directly on wooden panel. By showcasing the traditional painting’s backside, she inverts the relationship between artist and artwork: images emerge from within the painting, unbound by the traditional structures that once held exclusive power over them, rather than the artist placing a message on their surface. This gives each painting a sort of three-dimensional quality, while engaging the viewer beyond the panel plane. In this consideration, the gallery has not yet strayed from its sculptural proclivity, but presents an alternative 2-D object.
Wright’s work goes beyond reference to current events, and in fact formally resembles many modernist painters. Some paintings might recall Picasso’s “Nude Descending the Staircase (1912), in their use of neutral colours and sharp geometric form. Others carry a similar composition of Dada assemblages, which give them that sculptural, three-dimensional feel. Most strongly though, Wright channels Francis Bacon’s painting style where faces become blurred, and figures are skewed. Indefinite images especially emerge through the walls of the crate in “Out of Centre Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive” (2012), which sits in the middle of the upstairs gallery. As her feature piece, it embodies the voice of the anonymous author who speaks to our collective unconscious.
Words: Sharon Strom © ArtLyst 2012
@Josh Lilley Gallery Visit Exhibition Here