Stuart Pearson Wright is an artist living and working in East London. He grew up in Eastbourne, a seaside town in southern England, full of pensioners arriving daily by the coach load.
Born in 1975 in Northampton, Stuart drew with enthusiasm from an early age and after flirting with the idea of becoming an actor, finally opted for art school. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where his work received an ambivalent response from the tutors.
During his time at the Slade, Stuart won a travel award from the National Portrait Gallery as part of its 1998 BP Portrait Awards. He set out in a van on a trip around Britain, producing sketches and paintings as he went. The resulting exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was called From Eastbourne to Edinburgh-a Painter's Odyssey. Godfrey Barker in the Evening standard labelled Stuart "A Hogarth for our Times" (see Press Cuttings) and Brian Sewell was to describe the paintings as "images of such eccentricity and even madness that they fit perfectly the English tradition of the odd man out, the Blake, Spencer, Cecil Collins line, and the largest of them (very large and very mad) should at once have been bought by the Tate". Instead, the painting concerned: Tisbury Court 1999- a Tragicomedy , a large canvas with a neoclassical proscenium frame was bought by novelist and disgraced peer Geoffrey Archer.
After graduating from the Slade, Stuart returned to Eastbourne for a year. Working in a studio above his Mother's antique shop, he began to experiment with painting on gesso oak panels,
In 2000 Stuart returned to London, intending to stay for three weeks to work on some commissioned portraits. He has been in London ever since, with a never-diminishing list of people waiting to be painted.
A chance encounter in 2001 with the actor John Hurt in Old Compton Street led to a small portrait on oak, which was subsequently bought by the National Portrait Gallery along with a portrait of the Ballet dancer Adam Cooper.
Earlier that year Stuart's career had taken an unexpected turn when he won the first prize in the BP Portrait Awards for his painting Gallus gallus with Still Life and Presidents. During the course of a telephone conversation with a journalist, Stuart made a flippant, unguarded and regrettable comment about the Director of the Tate: Sir Nicholas Serota, suggesting he should be sacked. Next day, after the announcement of the prizes this story made the front page of the Telegraph. A brief media frenzy ensued.
Stuart was to make the headlines again in 2004 with the release of a portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh. The painting featured a bare-chested Prince with a bluebottle on one shoulder. The portrait, which had been commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts, was unexpectedly refused. The tabloid newspapers enthusiastically printed a number of the Duke's characteristic responses to his own portrait.
Later that year Stuart organized an exhibition at the Jerwood Space in London called Being Present. This featured the work of eight painters.
Another commission which inevitably made the headlines, but not for the presence of any dead chickens or flies, was a portrait of the children's author J.K.Rowling. Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, this portrait took Stuart nearly a year to complete and saw his work moving in a new direction. The portrait was conceived in the manner of a regency toy theatre, with figures painted onto flat, cut-outs, mounted in a three-dimensional space.
Stuart's interest in the theatre, and the concept of artifice led to his next exhibition in 2006, called Most people are other people: a collection of forty portrait drawings of British and Irish actors. The work was shown at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Theatre in London and will tour to Limerick and Aberystwyth in early 2007.
In June of 2006 Stuart had an exhibition of Still life paintings called Things standing still at Browse and Darby gallery, London. This was a three-person show with the painters James Lloyd and Jennifer McRae. It was a relief for Stuart to move away from portraits for the first time since art school. Producing portraits has become something of a default position the artist has fallen into.
Stuart is currently working on some new themes and intends to explore sculpture, animation and film in the coming year, with the hope of mounting a solo show.