The first thing that comes in my mind regarding your painting is love at first sight. I don’t know what drives me back to your paintings but it’s something magical. You start as a Illustrator and you originally worked as an employee. Tell me more about the beginnings. When did the passion emerged?
I have always drawn incessantly, from a young child my parents struggled to supply me with enough paper to work on, from 18 I began to use paint and the progression from there have been very organic. I have never knowingly pushed my work in any particular direction i have let it take it’s own course.
The reason for not moving into illustration is that I can’t work with the restrictions that illustration gives, I had decided to paint halfway through my studies in Falmouth, something that I have never regretted.
Who influenced you the most in term of technique?
My biggest influences have been fairly constant over the years, Frank Auerbach, Willem De Kooning and Rembrandt. I can think of many more and I am open to any work from any discipline that can help me in some way.
What is the thing that you want to capture the most when painting a portrait?
I am primarily interested in putting energy into my paintings, I would like all the marks to live independently and still come together to create an image, being able to experience my paintings in more than one way is important, up close the surface is broken and quite abstract and as the viewer moves away t’he image becomes more recognizable and the drawing becomes more obvious. This adds another layer of information and therefore experience for the viewer.
You occasionally shift focus from the face of the character to shoes and boots. Why this kind of approach?
The shoes and objects are treated in exactly the same way as the heads that I make. Ever since I made some paintings of my 92 year old Grandfathers brogues I have seen personality in Shoes/boots, it seems the more they are worn the more unique and interesting they become. It helps that I like shoes anyway. Other objects are chosen because they intrigue me or because I want to challenge myself to paint something that I haven’t attempted before.
Do you have a favorite drawing or a painting that you feel more emotionally involved with?
I don’t have a particular favorite as everyday I try to ask myself questions through painting that on a daily basis I try to answer, therefore painting becomes a constant quest where one painting informs the next, the carrot is constantly dangled. Most artists feel a very short feeling of euphoria followed by despair at the conclusion of a painting as you realize what could have been, and so it goes on! There is never an end, it is a never ending self examination.
Not many years after your first exhibition you were included for the first time in the BP National Portrait Award selection, displayed at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Can you tell me more about this event and the influence on future path?
Being exhibited in the BP award helped to introduce me to the gallery that represents me in London, everything from this point has thankfully fallen into place. I think that I felt I could operate at higher level than before or though oddly I have never thought of myself as a portrait painter but just a painter. I have always felt that likeness was essentially a good drawing, for me everything about the feel of the painting, the physicality, the mood and the expression could only come from me as it was my hand, eye and personality that was building the image. I happen to believe that the idea of a portrait painter as some sort of magician that can capture the soul of the sitter was old fashioned nonsense, therefore in my opinion every painting is a form of self portrait and it is the drawing that gives the identity of the sitter and nothing more.
You said once “The more serious I have become about painting, the more I realize it is an integral part of who I am. I cannot separate myself from it. I am aware that there have to be periods of consolidation, but soon there is a desire in me to make it difficult again, to face up to new challenges” What challenges do you intend to face up this year?
The challenge remains constant, to be the best painter I can be! To produce pictures made through honesty and to reveal ever more from my chosen subject, to continue to challenge my self!
Where could my readers see your paintings in the year ahead?
I am currently exhibiting at the London art fair in Islington, London. I will be having an exhibition in June with Thompson’s Gallery, I believe we will be at the Toronto art fair later in the year. I may be having an exhibition in Sao Paulo. Brazil at some point this year all though the dates for that are undecided as yet.
Paul Wright official page