William Wright & Oxana Tregubova: Nocturnes: Sea View at Casa MB

Casa MB is pleased to present Nocturnes, a two-person exhibition featuring artists William Wright and Oxana Tregubova, curated by Sea View. The exhibition opens on June 6 at Casa MB in Milan with an opening reception from 7 to 9 pm. 


An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into it forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence.

– Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, “In Praise of Shadows” (1933)


A response to the gallery’s atmospheric, domestic Milanese setting, Tregubova and Wright’s paintings are unassuming nocturnes—each canvas depicting austere scenes subsumed by serene darkness. Their subjects rest amidst the shadows that emerge from twilight to night, conscious to unconscious—applying dusky tones and subtle techniques that create a sensation of suspended time. These canvases stretch incrementally, and infinitely, into the negative space they carve from cloaks of gentle light, objects and figures that, through still, silent moments, accentuate perpetual impermanence. 
Born in the Ukraine, living in Moscow, and studying in Florence, Tregubova’s style is informed by the ancient frescoes and aged churches that surround her. Her uncanny scenes are unified by pitch-black backgrounds, such as in her painting Versione di figura 2, where dense night skies emphasize dappled, gray tree branches, an image transfer of swarming birds, and pallid, statuesque figures. In these imagined environments, coexisting species are lit by soft rays of moonlight that reveal their intrinsic mortality, at once luminous and lifeless. Through techniques from masking to airbrushing and marbling, Tregubova captures flora and fauna in the calm before the crumble—depicting life as it is coded with metamorphosis and decay.
William Wright crafts memento mori from the mundane: a bowl of green apples, a bouquet of wilting flowers, an ashtray of extinguished cigarettes, and a bushel of trimmed asparagus all shrouded in shades of charcoal gray and burnt umber. Each layer of oil paint is repeatedly sanded down and repainted, from which glimmers of previous iterations of the canvas—the impasto of a round table or the panels of a parquet floor for example—re-emerge on the surface of his deceptively tidy universe. Such as in his work Clouds Over the Studio, each element of his composition is outlined with a thick ebony band, reminiscent of those stark silhouettes embraced by Philip Guston, William N. Copley, and Roger Brown. These still lifes emphasize a psychic and temporal pause—quiet moments in which an unwatched clock continues to tick.
Unveiled in these domestic surroundings are those shadows that Jun'ichirō Tanizaki pursued in his 1933 treatise on interior aesthetics. Tregubova and Wright are similarly attune to the darkness that looms over the visible world and, through varied shades of black, they beckon forth duality—welcoming, rather than challenging, the inherent mystery of all things. 
- Sara Lee Hantman

William Wright (b.1971, London, UK) is an artist living and working in London. Wright studied at Leeds Metropolitan University, and since has held solo exhibitions at Sea View Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2024); Galerie Ariane C-Y, Paris, FR (2023); Seventh House Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2022); Lyndsey Ingram, London, UK (2022); and The Art Stable, Dorset, UK (2019). Select group exhibitions include Micki Meng Gallery, New York, NY (2024); Sea View Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2024); Lyndsey Ingram, London, UK (2021); Galerie Ariane C-Y, Paris, FR (2020); and The Young Gallery, Salisbury, UK (2017). Wright has a forthcoming exhibition at Josh Lilley Gallery, London, UK (2024).
Oxana Tregubova (b. 1990 Chernivtsi, Ukraine) is an artist living and working in Italy. Tregubova received her BFA and MFA in painting from the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence (2022). Tregubova has held a solo exhibition at Daniele Agostini Gallery, Lugano (2024). Select group exhibitions include Palazzo Monti, Brescia (2022); G.Fattori Museum ex Granai of Villa Mimbelli, Livorno (2022); Museum of Painting Academy, Beijing (2020); and SAC Spazio Arte Contemporanea, Livorno (2019). Oxana Tregubova was awarded Volvo Cars Avant Young Award (2021).