Portrait of Terry Jones 2003-6
Stuart Pearson Wright (b. 1975)
“Wright has increasingly sought to challenge the sycophancy of the average portrait painter through playful subversion of the genre and an air of irreverence towards the social aspirations associated with portraiture.
Graphite, charcoal and ink on paper
16 ¼ x 11 ½ inches; 41.5 x 29.5 cm
Stuart Pearson Wright studied at the Slade School of Art, and is regarded as one of the most talented figurative painters of his generation. Though ascribing influences is always an inexact science, his style has drawn critical attention for its admiration of past figurative traditions, from the Flemish Masters to Lucian Freud, via the social consciousness of William Hogarth. A self-evident aim of his portraits is to penetrate beyond simple likeness, and “to respond honestly and intelligently to what it means to be human.”
Wright has increasingly sought to challenge the sycophancy of the average portrait painter through playful subversion of the genre and an air of irreverence towards the social aspirations associated with portraiture. He is part of a growing number of young artists who use the skills of drawing and painting in a thoughtful way in order to interpret contemporary life. This approach has earned him acclaim from sometimes rather different directions.
Wright’s work has won him numerous awards, most notably the 2001 BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery for Gallus Gallus with Still Life and Presidents, a work which featured six former presidents of the British Academy, and a dead chicken. His subsequent commissions have been widely acclaimed, and occasionally controversial. In 2003 his portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh prompted the sitter’s celebrated remark ‘gadzooks!’, and was labeled ‘Phil the Freak’ by the Sun newspaper. Other notable works have included the actors John Hurt, Michael Gambon, and the author J K Rowling (for the National Portrait Gallery). This drawing is from Wright’s major exhibition of drawings of actors, Most People are Other People, jointly staged at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Theatre.