Mark Wright’s nocturnal yet luminous paintings masterfully capture the enigmatic beauty of sublime landscape. Using a cosmic alternation of light and dark, Wright creates such mediated imagery based in part on photographs taken and collected. The pictures feature phosphorus organic and natural imagery converging into what the artist calls “dystopian spaces.” This intersection of representation, experience and process is described elegantly by the artist as “A discursive investigation of the natural world or more specifically landscape as the subject matter is central to my work as an artist. This landscape is not about a specific sense of place but more about the idea of landscape and our relationship we have to it in a post digital world.”
To accomplish this complex painterly language that lies between figuration and abstraction, Wright’s begins with carefully selected support materials such as paper, wood panels, canvas, linen and flax. For the studies on paper the artist uses gouache, ink, watercolour, and acrylic, described as a place between abstraction and figuration “alluding to landscapes that fuse the imaginary, primary and secondary (mediated) images and a painterly-digital aesthetic.”
The artist seeks pigment that allows a sense of transparency and translucence within the surface. In works that appear to have an otherworldly sense of illumination, Wright plays with the quality of paint, pattern and light. He notes: “The underpainting or grounds are produced with a combination of distemper and acrylic paints, and then worked over with oil paint. A range of brushes allows an exploration of different calligraphic and gestural processes —a key aesthetic feature. The methods of working define the formal aspects of the work and help to locate my practice within a lyrical abstract and painterly tradition.” For Wright, the process of preparing his materials is in part a thoughtful and studied counterpoint to our more rushed and frenetic relationship with the digital world.
Wright grew up in Northumberland in North England along the border of Scotland. Indeed, the Scottish Highlands, The Lake District, and regional coastline informs the artist’s experience of landscape. At an early age, Wright became interested in the way this landscape was seen by artists particularly in the work of John Martin, J.M.W Turner as well as James Abbott Whistler. More recently, visits to Norway have allowed a new way of looking at nature. In Wright’s incandescent paintings, the convergence of landscape, an awareness of our fraught relationship with the digital world, artistic process, and imagination create a masterful body of work that exists as a reverie of abstract beauty.
Rosa JH Berland