We spoke to artist Michael Wright, whose exhibition, Different Worlds, is open at Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham. Wright’s show is the culmination of his musings on art historical sources, viewpoints and materials.
In this article, we learn more about this artist whose work transforms the trees of Turner, the atmospheres of Dutch masters and even his local landscape.
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been a practicing artist since I graduated from Winchester School of Art in 2001. I’ve drawn since a young age, and my teachers always encouraged me to practice my skills. As my skills improved, I naturally turned to painting in addition to drawing and printing, and recently, I’ve included mixed media and industrial materials into my art practice. I try to exhibit as regularly as I can and enter open art competitions which has resulted in me winning a prize in 2015 at the NOA (National Open Art Competition). I have exhibited in a variety of galleries and museums, including the Royal Academy, The RCA and Mall Galleries in London, along with local galleries such as Pallant House Gallery, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth and Southampton City Art Gallery.
What is your current exhibition about?
This latest exhibition is a display of paintings & drawings that re-examine the genre of landscape painting. I have sought to question how the landscape and its connection with art has changed literally through environmental, historical, and social impacts and also through our physical and digital connection with it.
Encountering historical artworks first-hand in galleries and museums or through images in books, magazines or digitally on the internet and his phone, I notice particular parts of interest within a larger image, such as a background, figures or natural details of trees or foliage. I then produce my own paintings or drawings taken from these images and re-establish them as original artworks. These works often then have a narrative that’s entirely different from the larger work that it has been derived from.
This process of perpetually re-looking at images and re-defining them is a constant in my work. It is an almost endless procedure of finding an image within an image. The process of looking continually is something artists are constantly doing to produce their work.
Michael recenters the importance of incidental elements of compositions, recasting features to great effect.
Tell us more about the works you have created. What was the starting point for your material and pictorial transformation of such renowned landscape paintings?
'Sea of Tranquillity' is the first painting I produced on industrial plaster. It's a more experimental approach to my work, which investigates the conflict between old and new, the historical and the contemporary, and the environmental impact of our existence on the planet and the consequences of our industrial past. The title references an area on the moon, which the circular form and rough plastered surface also refer to. The image of the top of trees comes from a larger study of trees from a Constable painting. Working in this way has produced a unique style and aesthetic that pays homage to the Masters of the past whilst being less ostentatious in appearance. They challenge the role historical art has within Western culture whilst also tackling classical art practices such as scale, perspective, colour and line.
To find out more about Michael's work and visit the exhibition, click the link below.