Stuart Pearson Wright's new exhibition at Riflemaker promises to be full of stetson-hatted, plaid shirt-wearing, existence-musing.
You think you had it bad growing up? A questionable haircut, over-enthusiastic pores and an impossible crush on Katie Hill? That’s nothing. Imagine what it was like for Stuart Pearson Wright, one of the first children born in the UK by artificial insemination - and them were the days before you could look to niche Facebook groups for support. The existential crises caused by this resulted in what Wright describes as an “identity void” which he attempts to confront in his work as an artist. It is 'a search for lost identity’. Heavy!
Well, whether he found his identity or not we may never know, but somewhere along the line he did find Keira Knightley - which I imagine is like finding a pound down the sofa cushion - who stars with him in his double-screen film installation Maze.
The film, and the series of paintings displayed in the exhibition, aim to explore the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity depicted in films, books and comics - especially the stories of the American West.
Wright’s paintings are striking. They depict an unsettling world where meticulously painted figures inhabit a simplistic and gaudily imagined wild west landscape. The juxtaposition of the realistic - yet distorted people and the cartoonish world in which they live creates a feeling of detachment, a crises of belonging.
On first glance the paintings appear light hearted - filled with sullen caricature cowboys and gingham clad belles. Many have been painted on kitschy thrift-store canvasses picked up in the US. Look a little longer and you’ll see an underlying vein of dark humour unbefitting the garish tones and imbuing his work with a feeling of melancholia.
Existential crises or not, Wright is still more popular than you’ll ever be - with famous friends aplenty. A conversation between friend, collaborator, actor, director and novelist David Thewlis and Wright has been transcribed and will also be part of the exhibition. A short story penned by Booker Shortlister Adam Foulds and a short text by theatre director Deborah Warner will also be on display.
If Keira Knightly, identity crises’ and cowboys aren’t enough to draw you to the Riflemaker Gallery, maybe the promise of a record full of country and western will convince you. The vinyl, which will be available at the exhibition, features Wright singing and playing the banjolelee and the ukelele on a host of achey-breaky tunes.
The exhibition I Remember You/Maze will run from May 5 until July 25 at Riflemaker 79 Beak Street, London W1.