Paul Wright was the first guest speaker we had at Coventry university, and I remember being completely unsure of what to expect. Nervous, in case our work was put on show and of being embarrassed in front of a ‘real’ professional. And excited at the prospect of really getting into our photographic education. Though he isn’t primarily a photographer, his approach towards his work was fascinating to hear.
He works mainly in portraits, more so into self portraits. He begins by talking about the expectations most portrait artists have of themselves, and what they believe their work should encompass. He likes to work in a different way. While he is talking, it becomes quite clear that he has a complete desire, a need almost to work against the grain and challenge the method of most portrait artists. Is this because of how little time art seems to get these days? Is he trying to throw himself out of the stereotype? Or is it just his self criticism pushing himself out of the boundaries he feels compelled to fill? Who knows. But which ever it is, it works. He has a completely refreshing mindset when it comes to his work. Everything is a self portrait. Whether that be a lemon or a face. ‘The subject itself is almost just a scaffolding to fit my portrait around’. The most intriguing part of his talk is the constant enthusiasm that seems to be pouring through his voice. After every point made he seems to trail off into another idea, another passionate rant.
His confidence in his own work is overwhelming. He talks of spending years, subconsciously almost, trying to prove himself as a painter, yet his most successful pieces are those in which he has put his confidence in his feelings and simply stopped trying.