Paul Wright: Profiles
24 February - 13 March 2021

Thompson's Gallery is proud to unveil a new body of work by award-winning figurative painter Paul Wright. 

Paul Wright in widely known for this dynamic and emotive portraits since he was shortlisted for the BP Portrait award in 2006 and later in 2015 with his portrait of Simon Armitage CBE.

For this exhibition Paul has entirely focus on just twelve powerful heads no bigger than sixteen inches square of people who have influenced and shaped his lives.

'Profiles' is a survey of likeness, vaunting the mystique of anonymity in a time where humans increasingly wield their image for personal, capital and social gain.

Paring back the concept of portraiture, Wright poses questions about the modern practice of portrayal. What motivates the depiction and dissemination of likeness today? What control is taken back or conceded, by recording likeness through analogue means in lieu of Smartphones and digital cameras?

Q&A with Paul Wright: 'Profiles' Solo Exhibition, February 2021 in London

Thompson's Gallery: Could you talk about the ideas underlying this new body of work?

Paul Wright: This body of work has been a great opportunity to work on a group of small portraits without any other projects interrupting the creative momentum that often builds as the paintings progress. Hopefully because of this they will feel like a coherent group that although they are of different faces and very varied palettes they have the same feeling that there was a greater goal than just the individual paintings.

TG: What has the studio been like in COVID era? In what ways has the environment, your practice even, changed if at all?

PW: I am and always have been a painter that needs momentum in my practice and like a sportsman I need to paint myself into form and Consistency. Therefore due to my time in the studio being variable of the past 12 months I have had to find ways to stay engaged and connected to my practice. Part of this has been to bring the kids to the studio for part of their home schooling. Although this isn't painting time I am still in the space and looking and thinking about painting, even if we are painting pirates and Christmas trees.

TG: What leads you to paint some in monochrome, and some in technicolour?

PW: Colour has always been a challenge for me and adds another layer of the painting process to consider, and although I welcome the challenge I occasionally move in to a monochrome palette that allows me just to focus on the form of the portrait and to employ more adventurous mark making.
I also work from monochrome photos and bring a colour palette to the painting. This can be helpful as it pushes me to invent colour rather than relying on what is in the source material.

TG: Tell us more about 'Friendly Fire' (below) - there's a knowing, perhaps confident look on the subject's face. What could you say about the message of this piece?

PW: I wanted to make a piece that gives a sense of strength alongside a conventional magazine type of beauty, I think it verges on intimidating which although wasn't intended is very interesting. I come from a world of very strong women and wanted to put this across in some way.

TG: 'Shielded' (below) is a very timely piece; tell us more about this particular work and who's depicted.

PW: 'Shielded' is my representation of what I see when I look at vulnerable groups during this pandemic, I see it very powerfully in my parents and although the subject isn't one of my relatives, it is intended to represent them. And the uncertainty that they feel.

Above: 'Shielded' Oil on board 14x12 inches £2650 - debuting in 'Profiles' on 24 February at Thompson's London

TG: What have you enjoyed most about painting this particular body of work?

PW: It felt like coming home. Small heads are where I go to when the wheels come off and I need to reinvent and touch base with my practice. Although I am very interested in other subjects, small heads are the one thing that I would want to be able to do if I was ever stranded on a desert island.

For more information about this exhibition or the artist Paul Wright, please contact the gallery at or by telephone at +44(0)2079353595.

Paul Wright