Hieroglyphics of the Face

Clifton Wright

22nd April – 28th May 2022

Thursday – Saturday: 11am – 5pm

Exhibition essay by Jack Southern | please click here to read

Block 336 is delighted to present the first major solo exhibition of drawings by Clifton Wright. Working prolifically for over 15 years, Hieroglyphics of the Face includes a selection of works made from 2017 to 2020. Clifton Wright works from life and draws the people around him. Whilst his models may be close friends that he has known for many years, he does not make traditional portraits. Wright instead uses the face as a starting point – a framework to be considered, abstracted and reorganised, with features becoming symbols that hang together in new formal arrangements.

Whilst Wright’s works follow a lineage of artists such as Picasso and Bacon, his references are more idiosyncratic than art historical. His deep interest in subjects such as outer space influences the way a form like a head may be described with a planetary type surface and informs the way he views the human subject  – its mystery felt akin to that which lies in the universe that surrounds us.

Wright uses soft pastel, charcoal, raw pigments and other media to create vividly coloured, brilliant works that demand to be seen in person. The surfaces combine sensitive mark making, bold weighty lines and traces of the artist’s dusty fingerprints that survey the surface of the paper he uses in relation to the facial landscapes he refers to. In some works such as, Jigsaw Space (2019), and Fingers Fused into Face (2019), Wright pushes the face into an almost cartographic arrangement, with faces becoming like maps for new geographies to be discovered and explored. Wright has said of his work ‘a face is the starting point, but the point is the picture’. In Hieroglyphics of the Face, Clifton Wright plays and reconfigures the familiar, ­continually reinventing the terms of the portrait.

Clifton Wright has recently presented work at Collect, Somerset House, London; in the group show Drawn Portraits at the Drawing Room, London  and has work held in the V&A Museum and Arts Council collections. Wright has been a member of the London based art collective Intoart since 2007.