back   |   home   |   next
international painting annual 4 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Stephen Wright
North Hollywood, California

detail image


Stephen Wright's paintings of people and common objects give us that rare thing, a moment of stoppage where we slow down to really see something. This interest is not a double-take, where you give something a second look to check yourself, because for the most part we immediately understand what Stephen is painting. What is crazily interesting is the way Wright paints, and (bigger) the subject choices. Stephen has been called a realist, but this term is incorrect ­— he is only a realist in the sense that after fifty years in America where modern art, pop art, and conceptual art has been at the center — Wright offers a return to personal paintings of particular vision. This is an impulse that got traction at the end of the 1800's when the great impressionist painters — Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh — showed how to break away from the dull representational work that had gone before them. The core value of impressionism was an attempt by the artist to capture their personal vision and express it in paint. This is, quite exactly, what Wright is doing today — but rather than being a hundred years late to the party the impressionists started, he is showing how the door they opened can be turned on present-day subjects with startling and lively results. And while anyone with an understanding of fine oil painting technique can connect with Wright's bravura impressions of the people and objects around him, the even better (stranger) appeal of Wright is in his subjects and choices. These range from delicately quirky nudes, people captured at strange moments & angles, "nothing" subjects like empty chairs, and (most recently) a host of flotsam and jetsam from pop-culture 20th century bric-a-brac. Wright's unique taste to choose these odd objects, angles and moments, and delicately express them in bold strokes is the fulcrum of Wright's art at this moment. The viewer is confronted with a beautiful painting, yet a vision that may not make conventional sense. Yes, we understand a venerable still life of a bowl of fruit -- but Wright's lonely ray-guns and out-of-context figures push our buttons and beg questions. Why show us this? What are you telling us? These images ultimately collapse in on themselves, because Wright's intent is to present the thing itself, honestly. The objects themselves resonate with him and he wants to share that joy with us, magically presented as he sees them -- frozen forever on canvas. The images are traditional yet fully new, fresh and strange. The torch of impressionism has been picked up and given fresh currency with a pop-culture vision odd-ball and innocent. That's pure Wright.





born: 1962, Los Angeles, California



Long Beach State University, BFA, 1986


selected awards/honors

ONE.2 - the Manifest Prize, 2011


selected publications

Poets & Artists, issue 37: Cover & p. 22-27, 2012

Manifest INPA 2; International Painting Annual: p. 28-33, 2011

Empty Magazine, Issue 18: p. 64-67, 2010


selected solo or two-person exhibits

Solo Show, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco, California, 2009

Solo Show, Gallery Henoch, New York, New York, 2007

Solo Show, Gallery Henoch, New York, New York, 2006

Solo Show, Gallery Henoch, New York, New York, 2005


selected group shows

Group Show, Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City, California, 2012

New Masters, Subliminal Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 2011

Group Show, Gallery Henoch, New York, New York, 2010

Art of the 20th Century, New York, New York, 2008



Copyright © Manifest Press