The aftermath of a napalm strike comes to mind when immersed in the paintings of Mark Wright as synthetic and haunting beauty belie moribund existence in his toxic wastelands. The sublime nature and stillness of the landscapes simultaneously recall petrified forests, the ritual aboriginal burnings of the bush, Dante's descent in to the bowels of the earth and the allusion to the wounding of the Fisher King and the sympathetic sterility and infertility of his lands that is caused when he is injured. His kingdom suffers as he does, his impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren wasteland. Little is left for him to do but fish in the river near his castle.
Weaving strands from ancient celtic myths through to T S Eliots "The Wasteland" and The Who's "Baba O'Riley" with the kind of concerns now 40 years on, that it isn't the youthful fear of growing old which engulfs our collective thinking, but the worrying concerns that there may not be a future to grow old in at all if we continue to consciously deplete our natural resources and pollute our planet at the rate we are doing.
Utopia has always been 'nowhere' ever since Thomas Moore's publication in 1516 and it is the dystopic which is the reality for the masses, utopia for a very few just as in Mel Brookes musical "The Producers" what was "Springtime for Hitler and Germany" was definitely "Winter For Poland and France". T S Eliot's The Wasteland opens with "April is the cruellest Month."
As the first world war emphatically killed the dreamers of the industrial age, 1968 saw the idylls of the new progressive liberals turn sour with the belated realization of global putrefaction and societal cynicism. 40 years on and where are we. The red brigades and unrest of the 70s has turned in to extremism of another form. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq today are escalations of conflicts and ideologies sown a century before under British colonial rule in India, Palestine and North Africa. large tracts of land lie destroyed and polluted and our rivers and seas emptied and bled dry.
Mark Wright's paintings encapsulate the psychology of our neurotically dyspeptic world in a place where we are peculiarly happy to wallow in and offer us a focused and penetrating view of our skewed habitue.