Jude Wainwright. Enigma.

A talented artist, her work is strong and bold, mainly portraiture, often self portraits.

I’ve not known Jude Wainwright for long. I guess the way I feel so far is as close as I’ll get to ‘being Alan Turing’ when he was trying to decode the Enigma machine. Because that one word is how I view Jude so far. An enigma.

But in her own words, “I can’t talk about things, so I paint.

Jude is quiet and contemplative, her bold brush strokes searching, I feel, for answers in some way. Sounds like an artistic cliché, but in this case I think a truth, not a cliché.

Her work is on show at 53two Theatre on Albion Street in Manchester until the end of April. I was there when she was hanging the work a couple of weeks ago and, looking at a large self portrait almost as though it was the first time she had seen it, let alone created it, she said (to herself I think), “I look so angry.”

Why does she paint and draw herself as a harlequin? I don’t know and Jude thinks it might be because of the Picasso influence…but she’s not sure. One noted Picasso expert says that, “The harlequin represented an alter ego of himself,” adding, “At the time that Picasso became fascinated with the harlequin, its outcast status was being amplified.” Hmmm.

Jude was born in Sheffield, went to school in Chesterfield and came to Manchester in 2006 to do a Fine Art degree at MMU, graduating in 2009.

Again in her own words, “Joined a band, played Glastonbury, the band split up and I got very lost for a few years. But dabbled in painting. After a painful personal break up, depression and anxiety I threw myself into painting and took a studio space at Hope Mill in 2015. This helped me to start to fix my head and rediscover my passion for art.”

We’ve chatted about her artistic influences and how overwhelmed she felt when walking into a room full of Lucien Freud paintings. Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko, Alice Neel. To be honest I get Freud, Bacon and Neel (just a glance at their work will show why), but I don’t get Rothko in the Jude Wainwright sphere of influences – although one of my own favourites. Rothko was searching through simplicity, the others through complexity.

Jude says, “I also like a lot of post war artists…perhaps I relate to art created after a trauma.” Hmmm again. Although she says her Nana was her biggest influence.

And Jude recounts an exhibition not too long ago when she was ‘advised’ to wear a ‘black cocktail dress and heels’ at the opening. No, don’t think so. Not Jude at all.

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#ComeSitWithMeAWhile at 53Two

Date: Until Tuesday 30th April
Cost: Free

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53Two, Lawrence House, 8 Albion St, Manchester M1 5LN
53two.com

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