PRINT January 2001

Clarissa Dalrymple

RICHARD WRIGHT MAKES WALL PAINTINGS immensely refined insignia that conjure the long history of human inscription. Wright’s paintings burn a retinal hole. They are not pictures. They are clear, bright, painted markings. As in a Baroque chapel, they activate a mental architecture, the way stars can make a ceiling, and offer an unlimited horizon.

Born in England in 1960, Wright studied painting in Edinburgh and worked for some time in a figurative vein. Restricted by the form, he found himself ungratified and took on work as a sign painter and musician to make his living. In the early ’90s, a potent neo-Conceptual art community was taking root around the Glasgow School of Art, where Wright was enrolled at the time, and it was there that he developed the sort of site-specific, conceptually oriented practice that has subsequently informed his contributions to such surveys as 1998’s Manifesta 2, in Luxembourg, and “Intelligence: New British Art 2000,” at Tate Britain. New York’s first exposure to Wright came in 1999, when he executed works for group shows at The Drawing Center and Greene Naftali.

It’s quite possible to walk into a room and not even notice the elongated, filigreed, doilylike form—half brown, half blue-lurking above the doorway. Or, in a tight corner, a tattoo—oxblood and black—siphoning up the wall. In this, Wright’s works resist being received as paintings, as conventional art objects. One cannot hold them, own them, assess them, value them-they are washed over for the next show. As Wright has commented, “I think the best work has been when the time limit, the space, or my immediate feelings allow things to pop up that can’t be fully assessed.”

Affiliated with Glasgow’s Modem Institute, Wright has realized a new installation in the offices of the Chelsea branch of Gagosian Gallery; come next month a pair of his wall drawings go on view at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in Douglas Fogle’s “Painting at the Edge of the World.”

As cofounder (with Nicole Klagsburn) of Cable Gallery, the influential NoHo outpost of the ’80s East Village gallery scene, and later as director of New York’s Petersburg Gallery, CLARISSA DALRYMPLE was an early champion of such artists as Ashley Bickerton, Nayland Blake, and Matthew Barney. Her 1992 show of a dozen then-emerging British artists at Barbara Gladstone Gallery jumpstarted the YBA Invasion, cementing her reputation as a bellwether of new art. Among her recent efforts: a collaborative venture bringing the work of young Scots (including Jim Lambie and Lucy McKenzie) to LA’s Grant Selwyn Fine Art.