X
Lewis Teague Wright
SCAB
Caloplaca marina is a type of sea lichen that covers rocks found along the shores of Ireland, Great Britain and other coastlines of Atlantic Europe. Well-suited to briny environments that are otherwise inhospitable to supporting life, Caloplaca marina, like all lichens, is a partnership between fungus and a photosynthesising organism. The latter provides the energy; the former provides a place for the photosynthesiser to grow. They propagate slowly, asexually, across surfaces, absorbing elements and pollutants. They thrived following the End-Cretaceous mass extinction, these ancient carriers of atmospheric history. Their fate following the impending sixth mass extinction remains precarious. The vivid orange crust of Caloplaca marina takes its name from Greek, meaning beautiful patches. Traces of the rocky coasts where these beautiful patches spread can be found throughout Lewis Teague Wright’s solo exhibition: SCAB. Seven sculptures are covered in colourful nylon flocking, softer than the scaly Caloplaca, and encased in flight cases. Teague Wright calls these works RIDERS, differentiating them with surreal and foreboding declarations. “We’re gonna empty your
mind, like one might empty your pockets.” ““Remember.." they said, “..that the darkest hour of all. Is the hour before you fall.””

Shelving units, cages and wicker baskets house assemblages that pair seashells and bottle caps, coke cans and pig snouts, crab claws and drink stirrers, theatre masks and sea urchins. On a message board, adorned with a frame of sun burst soda cans, bundles of paper scraps are collected and secured by push-pins. Small, often unnoticed mechanisms of security clips, gears, chains, locks, and keys hide and hang throughout. Blanketed in synthetic particles, the arrangements transform into still lives that conjure a speculative future-past in which natural and manufactured worlds are indistinguishable. These wunderkammers of charming detritus obfuscate markers of time and specificity, but as the protective, utilitarian exterior of the RIDERS suggests: they belong to someone, they’re going somewhere, and they require care.

Teague Wright’s recursive acts of embedding and covering are further demonstrated in a sitespecific installation atop the gallery’s central skylight. A checkerboard pattern of translucent gels in shades of pink, yellow and Caloplaca orange cast the exhibition in warm, dusty dusk. The enveloping hue has a comforting, immaterial weightiness. The chromatic expanse over the submerged gallery provides enticing camouflage. This coating yields pleasure. But soon after arises an insatiable urge to pick and peel.

- text by Daniel Merritt

Lewis Teague Wright (b. 1987 in London, UK) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include The Ghoul, Galerie pcp, Paris; Fever Dreams, Gianni Manhattan (2019); TOYOTA00, Cordova, Barcelona; Moondog, East Hampton Shed, New York; Casa Tomada, curated by Anna Goetz, Mexico City (2018); Urchin, Lodos Gallery, Mexico City (2017).