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Gary Wragg: Modernism Without Irony

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Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann considers the work of painter Gary Wragg on the occasion of the new book Constant Within Change: Gary Wragg: Five Decades of Painting: A Comprehensive Catalogue by Sam Cornish.

"A wide-ranging engagement with the history of art extends throughout Wragg’s career, with Matisse’s framing, the lure of geometry, the tension between gesture, contour and space, and all sorts of notations for painterly drifts, forming some of the more recurrent preoccupations across the years. Despite this, Wragg has steered clear of the formalist insularity to which much late Modernism has been prone. His pronounced receptivity to a diverse range of “external” sources has no doubt been crucial in this. … Wragg’s paintings thrive in their ability to transcend image. They lure us into their complex, overlapping webs of assertion: spatial, gestural, textural and chromatic — micro and macro… In a work like “The Studio III” (1989), we do not read gesture or action as definitive expressive moments, but instead follow their complex accumulation into a tentative and fragile totality — with an emergent sense of structure."

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