Artist pro­file

Grace Wright.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WO RDS Philippa Pren­tice PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Larnie Ni­col­son

Lately, artist Grace Wright has been in­ter­ested in paint­ing as kind of a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence, and her large-scale works cer­tainly do urge you to ex­pand your mind a bit. They’re a con­tin­u­a­tion of an ever-de­vel­op­ing style that be­gan to emerge in her fourth year at Elam School of Fine Arts, when she says she let go of us­ing im­ages of the body and in­stead be­gan to paint “a sense of bod­i­li­ness”.

Auck­land-based Grace says that for her, paint­ing is about cre­at­ing a mean­ing­ful and phys­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence in the dig­i­tal age. “I’ve been work­ing at a larger scale so that the au­di­ence can stand in front of a paint­ing equal to or big­ger than the size of their body that draws them in and at the same time re­turns them to a state of be­ing present and en­gaged in the now.”

Grace, we love your colour com­bos – what at­tracts you to this pal­ette?

Cre­at­ing con­trasts in my work helps con­vey a sense of dy­namic force within the pic­ture plane. They make it twist and pull, and surge in and out. I use bright, crys­tal-clear jewel tones and off­set this clar­ity with dirty, ‘ugly’ colours. I also cre­ate con­trasts by paint­ing some colours in gloss and oth­ers in matte.

How do your works come to life?

I start by hand-stretch­ing the can­vas, and then build the grounds in curv­ing shapes with gesso [a sur­face primer]. This cre­ates a con­trast in the way the colour acts when it’s painted over top, ei­ther suck­ing into the raw can­vas or glid­ing over the gesso. I never know what the final paint­ing will look like be­cause each ges­ture or block of colour I add is in­formed by the layer be­neath it. In this way, each work has its own char­ac­ter, be­cause it ref­er­ences it­self. Last year, you were se­lected for Hawke’s Bay gallery Par­lour Projects’ first res­i­dency, for which you cre­ated an 11 x 6m work. Now you’re set to ex­hibit with them as part of the Auck­land Art Fair in May – what

will you be show­ing? I’m ex­cited to be ex­hibit­ing a new se­ries of paint­ings mea­sur­ing 1.2 x 1.5m. In these works, I’ll con­tinue de­vel­op­ing the con­cept of ar­ti­fi­cial space within the pic­ture plane and us­ing con­trast­ing colours, lines and curves to cre­ate the sen­sa­tion of fall­ing into the painted sur­face.

Out­side of art, what in­spires you?

I’ve re­cently re­turned to con­tem­po­rary dance, and be­ing able to ex­press my­self through move­ment and mu­sic is hav­ing a pos­i­tive ef­fect on my work. Real mo­ments of tran­scen­dence are in­spir­ing for me and I of­ten find them in mu­sic – like be­ing at a gig and hear­ing a cer­tain se­quence of chords that el­e­vates your soul.

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