b. 1970, United States

Patrick Wilson Biography

Patrick Wilson is an American abstract painter known for creating luminous surfaces made from layers of translucent shapes. Recognised for their vivid colours and sculptural quality, Wilson's paintings often contest the boundaries of geometrical precision.

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Early Years

Born 1970 in Redding, California, Patrick Wilson studied at the University of California, Davis, where he graduated with a BA in 1993. In 1995, Wilson gained an MFA from Claremont Graduate University, California.

Patrick Wilson Paintings

Drawing from a wide range of chromatic tones, Wilson's acrylic paintings reflect an expansiveness across firm yet suggestive layers, resulting in seamless planes that allude to Southern California's modernist architecture and neon cityscapes.

Light and Space

Wilson's paintings are often associated with the Light and Space movement which emerged in Southern California in the 1960s. Using perception of light and sensory phenomena to create works that were conditioned by their surroundings, Light and Space works were often made from translucent materials such as glass, neon, fluorescent lights, and resin, resulting in installations which sought to direct the flow of light or embed it in objects and environments.

Wilson's acrylic paintings replicate this visual openness, superimposing translucent layers of rectangular shapes on one another—catching light in places and muting it in others. Drawing from bright, complementary palettes, the resulting works hint at the concept or place alluded to in their titles, evoking a sentiment or a mood, despite their apparent geometric matter-of-factness.

Hard-edge Abstraction

While Wilson's work is often associated with hard-edge abstraction, the painter asserts that the value of abstraction is in its openness. As such, Wilson's paintings are made through an intuitive process, with the artist responding to his compositions as they evolve. Guided by the principle of aesthetic pleasure, Wilson's paintings are made from a rigorous process with layers of translucent acrylics applied progressively to the canvas using paint rollers, drywall blades, and masking tape. The resulting shapes layered upon one another appear at once solid and translucent.

The Future

This interplay between colour and perception can be identified in The Future (2019), a grid-like acrylic on canvas work divided into four sections. Rendered in aquamarines, blues, and lime, these colours appear lighter or darker in shade when layered in different combinations within each rectangular grid—appearing as sombre pines and greys, or brighter blues and greens with hints of yellow. Wilson's technique not only creates a visual change in colours, but also a sense of depth and displacement.

This same progression can be noticed in Pacific Gold (2021), an acrylic on canvas work which shows a layered arrangement of yellow, gold, and blue rectangles, evoking a horizon of golden shores or the translucent windowpanes of a seaside home.


Selected solo exhibitions by Patrick Wilson include: Miles McEnery Gallery, New York (2019); Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, California (2018); Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, New York (2017); Patrick Wilson: Pull, University Art Museum, California State University Long Beach, California (2012); Slow Motion Action Painting, Marx & Zavaterro, San Francisco (2012); Some Things I Like, Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus (2007); Patrick Wilson: West, Fusebox, Washington (2005); and New Paintings, Brian Gross Gallery, San Francisco (2004).

Selected group exhibitions include: Do You Think It Needs A Cloud?, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York (2020); 20 Year Anniversary Exhibition, Vielmetter Los Angeles, Los Angeles (2020); The Responsive Eye Revisited: Then, Now, and In-Between, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York (2020); Pivotal: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, Orange County Museum of Art, California (2017); NOW-ISM: Abstraction Today, Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus (2014); and Local Color, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose (2012).


Patrick Wilson is represented by Miles McEnerny Gallery, New York.

Elaine Y.J Zheng | Ocula | 2021

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