Anne Wright – Fifty Light Years of Fine Painting (by James Brewer)

Few people venture out in the mid-day sun of the midsummer Mediterranean, but one who does is the British artist Anne Wright, who had half a century of her work on display in a compelling retrospective at the Piers Feetham Gallery in Chelsea. While most of us scamper for the shade, Anne declares: “I love the light: the strong, white light.”

She dons a doughty sun hat, plunges into the glare, and begins painting ‘contre jour.’ She is attracted to shades and sharp contrasts, and often positions her images at roof-top level. Unsurprisingly, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Morocco are her favourite locations, but she is sensible to more homely surroundings, too, and an oil painting of back gardens seen from her home in Clapham manifests itself in her hands as memorably as the glamourscapes.

Flagship work for the show is an oil on board painting of the white village of Yunquera nestling in the mountains on the road to Ronda. It looks like it has grown out of the landscape in the pre-combustion engine era. There is much more of Andalucia including inspiration from the dramatic Alpujarras mountain range. Chatting with this vibrant artist, it comes as a surprise to find that such works date from 1965 and 1970, and another of this charming genre, entitled Nuns in Spain, goes even further back, to 1961. Santorini and other Greek depictions are mostly right up to date, including one completed this year.

Anne says that her palette has lightened over the years, but the viewer perceives that she has always had an eye for the architecture of shapes in village and small town settings, including the formerly Roman centre of Tavira in Portugal. She searches out ruined buildings, and they seem to search her out. Still life, portraits and figures are given equally patient treatment.