Neill Wright’s Blizzard Head
Ripping out the layers of a collection that depicts more than meets the eye of the observer
The moment you enter the gallery, you see this delightful mirage of an abstract waterscape—perhaps a symbolical pond of pink lilies, purple apples and oddities draped with gigantic candy-colored raindrops. It arouses your curiosity. You proceed. Deeper into the exhibition hall, you discover oversized apples—bitten, of course, and the unconventionally shaped pictures all bursting with brilliant colors. You see foliage generally, but on a second look, there is more to it than just pop art. The two-dimensional image has metamorphosed into a jungle—a dense canopy of hidden figures and meanings ingeniously and intricately entwined with one another, like everything else existing in this complex world of ours.
Cause and Effect
Neill spoke of myths that inspired his paintings and of the concealed symbolisms that embellished them—the hands, the obscure human figures like shadows in the mist and fumes that burst out of an organised chaos. He touched not only upon nature’s beauty and bounty but also, and more importantly, mankind’s great participation to its rapid destruction—that nature is in our hands to nurture and yet our greed and negligence is now taking its toll to the slow but inevitable demise of our planet.
“We have just taken a fresh bite from Eve's apple and with this new knowledge, we are becoming more aware of the wilderness of our own making. It is both alluring and menacing, euphoric and perilous, positive and negative, known and unknown.” —Neill Wright
A Concerned Space
As an artist who also advocates appreciation and care of life and nature, these similar sentiments drew me much closer to his artworks—even more than the technical merits of the extremely flat application of paint and the harmonious use of colors on each canvas. The brilliant colors however, are not to be mistaken with jubilation for when one contemplates on the present state of the world, is there really a reason to be ecstatic? When asked if he was in a happy place while working on each piece, Neill rather contradicted that he was more concerned about “the human impact on the planet and how best to move forward.” Through his art he has presented “a metaphor of our current global mindset” in which, despite becoming even more aware of the planet’s problems we are now faced with the moral dilemma of taking significant measures, even in our own way, to prevent any further damage. To find the cure to this global disease in a time of uncertainty is risky and yet, ever hopeful.
Neill Wright is a South African contemporary artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has just concluded his first solo exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery. You will find his artworks on his Instagram account @neill_wright and website www.neillwright.com.