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FEBRUARY – JUDITH WRIGHT – SYDNEY

JUDITH WRIGHT SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

Significant Others is a remarkable return to painting for Judith Wright after a decade dominated by the trio of epic sculptural installations Journey, Destination & Ancestors.  These large-scale installations explored, in the most theatrical way to date, the interior lives and melancholy environments of childhood play and imaginings. In Significant Others, Wright has returned to making distilled and elegant works that are at once symbolic of an intensely personal narrative, but also granted greater freedom by their gentle abstraction and material life.

The colours within Significant Others are the richest and most sensuous to date. Ghosts of physical form are always present in her drawings, though here they read as monolithic landscapes – albeit as a topography of the human head.

Wright has created a uniquely individual vocabulary using colour and symbolic form over many years. In this sense the work has a relationship not only to Louise Bourgeois but also painters such as American Suzan Frecon – artists who have folded deeply private narratives into their image making but have not been held captive by obligations to resolve drawing and painting, or sculpture for that matter.

The behaviour of the Japanese paper and the waxed pigments in Wright’s work is extraordinary. Her colours are atmospheric and modulated by the application and the material. Veils of subsequent pigments serve to give the images a gauze-like transparency and yet this is within a deep and sonorous tonal range – more romantic than ever before.

Significant Others is comprised of three major groups – the largest being the grand quintet, which stretches a little over 10 metres in length, each work being 2.0 x 2.0m. Like a turning study of a head, we see the form rotating and tilting, obscured and occluded, its features never fully apparent – its identity never fully met.

The second group includes 8 elements, each 1.0m square, and the third a triptych of three vertical works 2.0 x 1.0 each. This last work, more than the others perhaps, recall the elemental drawings Wright made in the middle 1990s titled Body Trace. Reduced in colour and starker in their graphic presence, they nonetheless show Wright’s extraordinary capacity to make intimate works on a grand and enveloping scale.