The moments of NOW become many moments that create their own context, building a surface of layered paint, organizing the space from spontaneous movements. In Gary Wragg's paintings marks, lines and colours are applied directly with little concern for anything other than the awareness of the moment of application of the paint. The essence of each work consists of a dialogue of complimentary opposites, between the particular nature of stillness and movement, open and closed, hard and soft and full and empty, wet and dry and thick and thin. Wragg emphasises that the marks go where the mind, [eye, chi], travels. The mind can go anywhere, there is no limit.
The work develops from felt sensations of playing Tai Chi Chuan. The statements are of air and light, colour and form of the paint itself. Edges are crucial and need critical balance in their relationships. Gravity is essential to the work, as is anti-gravity. The feel in the arms and body, light /heavy, springy, expansive, silky smooth, subtle and tranquil while walking, standing, sitting or reclining, are sensations that Wragg attempts to address. Painting and drawing, for him, is the most viable means.
Wragg has always worked on different groups of paintings simultaneously. The Nice/Vence paintings were, for instance, worked on at the same time as the Tangram paintings. The Metro series were worked on at the same time as the Edge and Box paintings. Likewise, he has always been a Lampus and Phaethon [two horse] person, like Matisse and de Kooning, in that abstract and figurative interests develop in parallel.
In the summer of 2011 Wragg visited the Acropolis in Athens, which re-kindled his interest in 5th Century Greek Art that began at the British Museum in 1963, when he spent time drawing from the Elgin Marbles, something that he would continue to do periodically throughout his career. This connection is apparent in the present exhibition in the Acropolis series. Connected too, was the previous show at Alan Wheatley Art in 2010, of early watercolours and acrylic paintings Wragg made whilst at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts.
The interests and concerns of that time have been taken around the block, so to speak, over the past five decades, and have still continued to maintain a consistency, albeit with a transformed understanding of spontaneity of movements.
In his memorable visit to Willem de Kooning’s studio in 1985, Wragg was impressed with the way he stood in his 'osh kosh' painting clothes, rooted, more Tai Chi than most Tai Chi practitioners. De Kooning's late paintings of 1985 also stood on the floor. For Wragg they were a great example of the reality of light heaviness exemplified rarely in contemporary painting and a quality highly revered he reflects in Taoism and Tai Chi. Seeing them again at the major exhibition Willem de Kooning: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in early December 2011, Wragg was deeply moved and reminded that they are indeed a major part of his own odyssey.