Judith Wright: Conversations

Judith Wright: Conversations
19 September – 29 November 2009
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Judith Wright


The upcoming exhibition opening at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand, Judith Wright: Conversations, surveys the artist’s work since 1990 up to the present day in a diverse range of media, including paintings, artist books and haunting video-based works.

Formerly a dancer with the Australian Ballet, movement, form, intimacy and the inner world are integral to Wright’s work, both in still imagery and filmed sequence.

The spacious and suggestive paintings on paper overturn expectations that video might proceed from drawn story-boards. Instead, Wright’s drawn works stem from her video work. Moments on the screen are abstracted to monochromatic forms, scaled to her own body, on hand-made Japanese papers.

This exhibition is curated by Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport. She says Judith Wright is much admired for her sustained and sensitive practice. The artist has just been awarded the Australia Council’s prestigious Visual Arts Fellowship.

“What the artist has evolved over twenty years is a finely-crafted way of working, a methodology that exists as a ‘whole intimate universe’, inhabiting and giving voice to the intense interpersonal, psychological and emotional terrain of her quietly profound art.

“Over two decades, Wright has drawn from the Japanese dance of Butoh and from poets such as Austrian Rainer Maria Rilke and the tenth-century Japanese poetess, Izumi Shikibu. This exhibition’s title stems from Shikibu’s poems, particularly those of The Diary of Izumi Shikibu that form a concise dialogue or exchange between the poet and her lover.

“The artist’s unwavering attention focuses on the imprecise articulation of emotion between humans, the slippages of communication. Her intuitive and instinctive video-making sparks emotional responses which lead to the drawings. The process sets up a dialogue, a contained feedback loop inspiring further making,” says Devenport.

Wright uses this temporal medium alongside her paintings and books to extend the range and meanings of her work. Of her own work, Wright says: “Yet for all their abstract nature, the drawings are grounded in the narratives of the videos. I like the clarity of intent in the video that I deny myself in the drawings”.

Judith’s work is represented in several significant museum and university collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the Kawaguchi Museum of Contemporary Art, Saitama.

Judith Wright: Conversations is presented with generous support from Radio Network Taranaki and Te Kairanga Wines.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery