In Lisa Wright’s The Unversed new works speak for their subjects
The figures in Wright’s paintings are caught on the brink of adulthood. They have soft, childish faces and newly rounded bodies and their predominantly naked figures are adorned with decorative, adult clothing consisting of ribbons, Tudor ruffs and silk sleeves. The figures adopt semi-formal portrait poses that enhance the juxtaposition between their pubescent shyness and awkwardness with an increasing defiance.
As Wright describes, ‘puberty heightens everything. Emotions are intensified and the presentation of the self, of body image, predominates.’ Many figures are consequently shown wearing masks, reminiscent of Venetian carnival masks, held in place over the mouth to render the wearer somewhat passive. The Unversed refers to this passivity of Wright’s figures, who, anticipating their future identities during an unsettling era, lack the skills and the experience to express themselves adequately.
Wright’s work has been selected for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition for the last twenty two years. She has also exhibited in the significant ‘Art Now Cornwall’ exhibition at Tate St Ives and won numerous awards, including the National Open Art Prize and the Threadneedle Prize in 2013.
After studying at The Royal Academy Schools, London, 1990-1993, Lisa Wright relocated to Cornwall, where she currently lives and works. Her work is held in many corporate and private collections and she was artist in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company throughout the two year period of their ‘ Histories’ cycle, culminating in an exhibition at the Roundhouse, London.