New Zealand

Grace Wright Biography

In the paintings of emerging New Zealand artist Grace Wright, tonal planes and gestural bands of colour rhythmically coalesce like lightly tangled intestines. Rendered in layers of acrylic paint on linen, the Auckland-based artist's abstractions conjure up rhythmic forms evocative of 17th-century religious painting, the human body, and nature.

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Early Life and Influences

Born in Tauranga, New Zealand, Grace Wright studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, graduating with a BFA in 2014. She later returned to complete an MFA between 2018 and 2019.

Wright cites as her artistic influences New Zealand painters like Judy Millar and André Hemer. She also takes inspiration from the practice of international artists, for example the scale and dynamism of American artist Mary Weatherford and also German artist Albert Oehlen.

Grace Wright's artistic influences are as much a part of her work as her background in dance and music. A fascination with rhythm and fluid movement is evident in Wright's paintings in the push-and-pull of long brush strokes that diverge and re-converge.

Painting and the body

Interested in expressing a sense of the body through her work, Wright's earlier graphic works morphed into looser and larger paintings towards the end of her MFA as her style developed. She began experimenting with techniques of winding brush strokes that thinned and unfurled across the canvas in curving, and at times fleshy forms. Her gestural approach records the movements of her own body, documenting the sweeping, jabbing, and flicking actions of the arm and wrist. More than simply rendering bodily form, it intends to evoke the sensation of both existing within a body and relating to it.

Baroque Shifts

As Wright began to embrace a more gestural and bodily approach to her practice, she equally began to explore art history more overtly in her compositions. In the over-three-metre-long Final Fantasy (2020)—one of several works on show that the artist painted during lockdown—one can clearly see a shift to a more monumental scale and also reference to the religious painting of the Baroque movement. Gestural abstractions evocative of fleshy figurative forms play out against a background of strong diagonal lines and intense chiaroscuro lighting, evoking the paintings of European masters like Rubens and Carracci.

Wright explains the subversive intent of this development: 'Painting on a monumental scale is usually associated with masculine values, but I aim to subvert this, creating work that is bold and unapologetic, while also fully embracing of its vibrant feminine attraction and visual pleasure.'

The influence of Western art history can also be seen in Wright's solo exhibition at Gallery 9 in Sydney, Making It All Seem Real, where her use of Baroque and Renaissance palettes—Prussian blues, viridian green, dark brown, deep turquoise, and maroon, mingle with a more contemporary palette of metallics and pastel colours. Wright explains, these colours are not only reminiscent of moments of light in the natural world, but also suggest the blue false light of technology. What results is something hovering between historic figuration and contemporary expressions of pure energy.

Exhibitions

Grace Wright's artworks have featured in several group and solo shows across New Zealand and Australia. One can often find examples of Grace Wright's art for sale at trans-Tasman art fairs such as the Auckland Art Fair and Sydney Contemporary.

Grace Wright's solo exhibitions include Making It All Seem Real, Gallery 9, Sydney (2021); Alpha Paradise, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland (2020); HEARTFELT, Gallery 9, Sydney (2019); Twisted Logic, Parlour Projects, Hastings (2018); Afternoon Delight, PG Gallery 192, Christchurch (2017); and LUSH, Studio One Toi Tū, Auckland (2015).

Grace Wright's group exhibitions include: Frieze, Gow Langsford, Auckland (2021); Still No Answer: Contemporary Women Artists From Australia & New Zealand, The Vivian, Matakana (2019); Tastes Like Honey, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland (2017); and Nothing Comes From Nothing, Zeus Gallery, Tauranga (2015).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2021

Grace Wright Featured Artworks

View All (28)
Words Run Deep by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Words Run Deep, 2022 Acrylic on panel
185 x 135 cm
Gallery 9 Contact Gallery
Views For A Flower by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Views For A Flower, 2022 Acrylic on linen
185 x 135 cm
Gallery 9 Contact Gallery
The Stillness of Everything by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright The Stillness of Everything, 2022 Acrylic on linen
160 x 200 cm
Gallery 9 Contact Gallery
Optics of Observing Surrender by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Optics of Observing Surrender, 2022 Acrylic on linen
185 x 135 cm
Gallery 9 Contact Gallery
Liquid Soul by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Liquid Soul, 2022 Acrylic on linen
185 x 135 cm
Yavuz Gallery Contact Gallery
At The End Of All This by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright At The End Of All This, 2022 Acrylic on linen
200 x 170 cm
Yavuz Gallery Contact Gallery
Turning Life Over Anew by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Turning Life Over Anew, 2022 Acrylic on linen
160 x 120 x 3 cm
Yavuz Gallery Contact Gallery
Heaven Ought Not Hinder Us by Grace Wright contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Grace Wright Heaven Ought Not Hinder Us, 2022 Acrylic on linen
185 x 135 x 3 cm
Yavuz Gallery Contact Gallery

Grace Wright Recent Exhibitions

Grace Wright Represented By

Gallery 9 contemporary art gallery in Sydney, Australia
Gallery 9 Sydney
Yavuz Gallery contemporary art gallery in Singapore
Yavuz Gallery Singapore, Sydney

Grace Wright In Ocula Magazine

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