Coates & Scarry, London
Lisa Wright’s paintings and drawings are simultaneously rooted in the past and the present, intimately and emotionally entwined with historical portrait painting. Fragments of history - ribbons, ruffs, wigs and petticoats - are pieced together with a contemporary sensibility. The resulting figures hover between time periods. They also hover on the brink of adulthood: childish faces with rosy cheeks and rounded bellies at odds with their formal clothing and decorative adornments. The sensual and striking subjects of Wright’s works are underpinned by her remarkable skills in drawing and deft handling of paint. The works are uniquely unsettling and compelling.
Wright studied painting at the Royal Academy, London, 1990-1993, after which she moved to Cornwall, where she now lives and works. In addition to many well-received solo exhibitions, Wright’s work has been acquired by numerous corporate and private collections and was shown at Tate St Ives in the notable Art Now Cornwall exhibition. She was Artist in Residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company throughout the two year period of the ‘Histories’ cycle, which culminated in exhibitions at the Roundhouse, London and at the Royal Academy. Notable awards include the National Open Art Prize, the Hunting Art Prize, and, most recently, the Threadneedle Prize, 2013.
The works of Penny Byrne are at once highly political and beautiful. Consistently working with ceramics, she combines vintage porcelain figures with other materials and objects that disrupt and unsettle the original figure. Sometimes Byrne paints text and motifs directly onto the porcelain surface or uses objects such as vintage Action Man accessories and decorative glass ornaments to bring radically alternate stories to these familiar domestic figurines. Her recent pieces reference conflicts and protests connected to global political affairs giving the characters voices and new lives which are far removed from their original purposes as meek shepherdesses or farm girls feeding ducks. Byrne’s meticulously manipulated ceramics are saturated, too, with wry humour.
Byrne is based in Melbourne, Australia and holds a BA in Fine Art Ceramics. In 2015 she will be showing in the Venice Biennale, a project in collaboration with the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The artist has won several awards and prizes, and has shown her work extensively in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Notable exhibitions include those at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, The Gallery of Western Australia and Saatchi Gallery in London.