Patrick Hughes


British
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Silver


Lagoon
2018

Palazzina
2019

Robot
2015

About The Artist

Patrick Hughes, born in England in 1939, held his first solo show in 1961 in London. From the 1980's, he started to explore the difference between perspective and "reverspective". For the last 25 years, his 3-D reverspective paintings have been exhibited around the world and are featured in many public and private collections.

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Patrick Hughes creates paintings that come alive through the motion created by optical illusions. Each plane of his pictures shrinks or expands to accommodate the movement of the onlooker, in perfect harmony, like a good dance partner. 

His art transports viewers to Venice, to the Great Wall of China, and into museums filled with the greatest masterpieces of contemporary art, to which he pays a playful tribute. But his focus is not only on picturesque places, as his work also explores everyday objects, like toys, and common places like libraries to, quite literally, give onlookers a new perspective on them.

Patrick Hughes uses his ground-breaking sense of perspective as a mean of enabling a strange relationship between the spectator and the picture – a dialogue of sorts. To him, it is about motion and movement. 

“I'm not ultimately interested in skyscrapers or picture galleries, they are just a beginning. The beautiful thing to observe is when people are looking at them and moving and, I suppose, thinking and wondering.”

The experience of seeing a Patrick Hughes sculptured painting in reality is to experience unreality and the paradox of illusory space and movement.

Critique

Seeing is Believing
Brendan Flynn
Curator of Fine Art, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

For Patrick Hughes, art has been a means of intellectual enquiry rather than an end itself. His paintings are machines designed to change the way we think about the world. The art of representation has always been linked to knowledge and understanding of the external world and the ways in which we perceive it – what we see and how we see. The notion of perspective has been central to the evolution of Western Art since classical times, its principles closely linked to the empirical view of the world, logic, mathematics and geometry. The ability to create a facsimile of the exterior world has been highly prized and perfected at precisely those periods when the knowledge itself has been most eagerly sought and argued over.

Hughes is developing a line of enquiry which has preoccupied generations of European artists. The architect Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446) was one of the first to make an interactive artwork that demonstrated the principle of perspective. He painted a view of a building on a silvered background with a spy hole in the centre corresponding to the vanishing point. The viewer looked through the whole at another mirror that reflected the image including the sky and moving clouds, so increasing the illusion of reality. For contemporary audiences, the effect must have been amazing. It placed the viewer literally at the very centre of the work. It was experimental with a serious purpose but it was also entertainment and this has been a fundamental aspect of Hughes’ work – its ability to capture the attention and imagination of the viewer and involve them in the process of enquiry.

Command of the law of perspective allowed artists to create complex illusions that mimicked reality to an astounding degree. The Camera degli Sposi in the Gonzaga Palace in Mantua by Mantegna (1431 – 1506) for instance, remains an astounding tour de force of illusionistic painting in which solid walls are effectively dissolved by the coherent manipulation of perspective, coupled with the viewer’s expectation – we see what we expect to see and our mind fills in the blanks. Three and two- dimensional elements were combined to dramatic effect in the work of Gaudenzio Ferrari (1484 – 1546) at Varallo, where life size painted figures emerge from the fresco into the viewer’s space.

The Dutch painter Carel Fabritius (1622 – 54) created some extraordinary hybrid works which combine elaborate architectural perspective with foreshortened still-life motifs and figures. His View of Delft with a Musical Instrument Seller’s Stall (National Gallery, London) is amazingly modern in spirit and defied the picturesque conventions of his day. If David Hockney is right, he may have used a camera lucida, an optical instrument, to project the images on to his canvases. His compatriot Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627 – 1678), went a stage further with his three-dimensional peep-show boxes with interior scenes painted on the inside surfaces which look real when viewed through the spy-holes. The fall of light in the scenes corresponds to the actual fall of light on the interior of the box through the open sixth side thus reinforcing the illusion created by perspective. These boxes are perhaps the conceptual ancestors of Patrick Hughes' painted constructions. They rely on the active participation of the viewer and exploit our reflex response to visual stimuli. The knowledge that it is an illusion does not make it a less effective – if anything it makes it more enigmatic and thought-provoking as normal mechanisms for reading space are disrupted.

Like many young artists and poets of his generation, Hughes was inspired by the work of the European Surrealists. The 1950’s and early 60’s saw a revival of interest in Surrealist art, film and literature which became widely available for the first time. Hughes admired Paul Klee for his subversive wit, underlying geometry and experimental drawing, also Rene Magritte, for his exploration of the pictorial paradox – his way of laying bare the process of perception. In Magritte’s work, 
The Human Condition 1 (1933), we are confronted by a painting of an interior in which we see another painting of an interior on an easel depicting the implied view through the curtained window. It encapsulates the idea that we experience the world only via a system of elaborate constructs. Hughes says it is his desert island picture, but states "I don’t particularly like what Magritte’s paintings look like, I like what they think." (Interview with Murray McDonald, August
2003). Hughes shares the surrealist fascination with the absurd and oxymoronic, relishing Milton’s description of the fires of Hell as: "No light, but rather darkness visible." (Paradise Lost, Book 1. 1, 61) Perhaps the equivalent of Meret Oppenheim’s Fur Cup and Saucer (1937) is Hughes’ Circular Train (1971) trapped in its funny, pointless gyrations.

Hughes' paradoxical paintings are visual one-liners designed to raise a smile and to question the immutable constants through which we form our view of the world – hard and soft, near and far, up and down, in and out. Each one is challenges in turn: light becomes solid, interiors and exteriors inter penetrate, distant objects protrude disobediently into the viewer’s space. In the screen-print,Déja Vu (1976) the schematic image of the receding road is seen through what we assume to be a rear view mirror while the inner frame of the print becomes a windscreen. The correspondence of the two images implies motion as the white lines vanish into both horizons. In Realistic Paint (1977) the surface of the picture is cut away to expose the real painted wall behind it. The elliptical hole is given three-dimensional value by the lines of the floor boards – so we read it as a pool of paint seen from an oblique angle. They are jokes, but in the words of the Georgian satirist, Charles Churchill, "A joke is a very serious thing." (The Ghost, book 4). For Hughes, they are a means of analysing the way we think about the world. The famous rainbow works explore the realm of the paradox in a systematic way. The rainbow is taken through a series of permutations that contradict its nature. The cipher of prismatic light becomes a solid, casts a shadow, appears at night, enters rooms but its associations are so fixed that it retains its value as a signifier. Over one million of the rainbow cards were sold during the 1970’s, integrating seamlessly into popular culture.

His discovery and development of reverse perspective gave Hughes an even more potent mechanism for loosening the grip of experience on the viewer's imagination. It relies on the fact that the human brain and eye are adapted during early childhood to apprehend space in terms of linear perspective – converging parallel lines imply recession and distant objects appear smaller. Reverse perspective exploits and simultaneously denies this learned response. The brain will persist in decoding the information in the customary way even though it knows the information is wrong. Hughes also uses painted cast shadow to underpin the illusion, creating convincing synthetic environments that ensnare the eye. A particularly elaborate example of this is seen in Billy Bean’s Silly Machine (1995) where the interior appears to be lit from a light source in the adjacent room. He naturally favours the architectural themes which lend themselves to perspective manipulation – gallery interiors, libraries and high-rise buildings – familiar shapes and places which are ingrained in out consciousness. His use of panoramic landscapes, beautifully painted with atmospheric recession again reinforces the perception of actual space. In Steel Sunflowers (2003) the prison doors appear to be open (or closed) on a radiant Provencal landscape to present opposing visions of freedom and confinement. A similar conjunction of opposites occurs in Nature and Culture(2000) where the control panels are set against exquisitely detailed mountain scenery. Because they are slowly and partially revealed, the eye is compelled to explore these landscapes actively and urgently. Over the years, Hughes has gradually refined the geometric structure of the three- dimensional works to make them operate to maximum effect. The longer works of five or six projections fill the viewer’s peripheral vision. Often, the content of the deserted libraries and galleries offer insights into the artists own creative imagination – the books that have inspired him are on the shelves, the paintings on the walls. In These Are a Few of My Favourite Things (2003) he gives himself a mini-retrospective – a manifesto of his ideas.

There are no human figures in Hughes' paintings. They are like empty stage sets ready for us to enter and explore. Like Duchamp, Hughes believes that the observer is 50% of the art work. The viewer is empowered to interact with it and to explore its effects and implications in a direct way on a personal level. During the exhibition of his work in Birmingham in 2002, it was enlightening to seen the visitors moving back and forth in front of the painted constructions in a kind of contemplative dance. The appeal of the works was not only visual but also intellectual and many visitors returned again and again to study them and left with their views of the world and its immutable rules subtly changed.

 

Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

2019
A New Look at Perspective, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London
A Newer Perspective, Tangent Contemporary Arts, Online Exhibition

2018
The Fourth Dimension, Alex Pairon Gallery, Belgium
A Newer Perspective, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London

2017
Perspectiviews, Persterer Contemporary Fine Art, Zurich
Perspective in Perspective, Flowers Gallery, New York

2016
Reverspectives,The Gallery at Dauntsey’s, West Lavington, Wiltshire
Perspectivision, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London
Views of Hughes: Selected Multiples, Winsor Gallery, Vancouver
Forwards to Backwards, Leeds College of Art, Leeds

2015
Patrick Hughes: Moving Spaces, Osthaus Museum, Germany
Patrick Hughes: Perspective Anew, Flowers Gallery, New York
Opperspective, Scott Richards Contemporary Fine Art, San Francisco
Art Paris, Paris Art Fair, Grand Palais, France
Hughesual Perspective, Galerie Boisserée, Germany
Hues of Hughes: Selected Works 1999-2014, Winsor Gallery, Canada

2014
New Reverspectives, Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London
Reading Paradox, Hanmi Gallery, Seoul
Gallery 360, Northeastern University, Boston
Studiolospective, Flowers Gallery, New York 
Moving Space, Panorama Mesdag, The Hague 
Reverspectives, Axel Pairon Summer Gallery, Knokke

2013
Reverspective Paintings, Bel Air Fine Art, Deutsch Museum, Lausanne
Structure of Space, Galerie Boisserée, Cologne
Superspectivism, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London 
Deceptivespective, Scott Richards Contemporary Fine Art, San Francisco

2012
Smallerspectives, Flowers Gallery, New York
Perspectivariations, Winsor Gallery, Vancouver
Multispectives, Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London
Selected Works, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London 
Elaine Baker Gallery, Florida
Kinesthetic, Flowers Gallery, New York
Studiospective, Reverspective Studio, London

2011
Fifty Years in Show Business, Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London
New Works, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London 

2010
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul
Perspective and Perception, Flowers, New York 
Galerie des Lices, St. Tropez
Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris
Three Dimensional Painting and Multiples, Galerie Boisserée, Cologne
Reverspectives, ArtGallery Vieleers, Amsterdam

2009
Patrick Hughes, Winsor Gallery, Vancouver
Perspective, Harvey Nichols, Dubai
The Genius of Perverspective, Marigold Fine Art, New Delhi
Patrick Hughes, Bel Air Fine Art, Geneva
Patrick Hughes, Intercontinental Hotel, London 
Perfectspective, Flowers Central, London 

2008
Patrick Hughes, Galerie Boisserée, Cologne
Reverspective versus Perspective, Nicolas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Perspectivirtuoso, Flowers East, London 
Superperspectivision, Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco 
Winsor Gallery, Vancouver

2007
Grand Canals, Flowers Central, London 
Recent Work, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York 
Perspective Perpétuelle, Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris
Aspenspective, Sardella Fine Art, Aspen, Colorado 
Perspectrum, Flowers, New York 
The Prints In Between, Flower Graphics, London 
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Korea

2006
Permanentspective, Flowers East, London 
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul
Superduperspective, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England
Relativespective, American Institute of Physics, Washington DC
Shaperspective, Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco
Realism, Galerie Vieleers, Amsterdam

2005
Escaperspective, Keller & Greene Gallery, Los Angeles
Imperspective, Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh
Impossible, Flowers Graphics, London
Perplexspective, Flowers New, York
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Korea

2004
Doors Etc, Flowers, New York
Solo Retrospective, Art Chicago, Chicago
Reverspectives, Galerie Vieleers, Amsterdam
Patrick Hughes, Flowers Central, London
Reverspective, Dennos Museum Center, Midland, Michigan
Reverspective, Susan Duval Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
Persuasivespective, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York

2003
Whopperspective, Flowers East, London
Reverse Perspectives, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto
Percepspective, Artower, Athens
Experspective, Flowers West, Santa Monica, California
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul
Johyun Gallery, Seoul

2002
Flowers East at London Fields, London
Riperspective, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham, England
Beyond Perspective, Belloc Lowndes Fine Art, Chicago

2001
Properspective, Flowers East, London
Patrick Hughes, Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul
Flowers Central, London
Recent Works, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York
Hyperspective, Flowers West, Santa Monica, California
Flowers East at London Fields, London
Certain Realities, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

2000
Illusions, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Multiple Perspectives, Belloc Lowndes Fine Art, Chicago
Improperspective, Flowers West, Santa Monica, California
Reverse Perspectives, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

1999
The Movies, Flowers West, Santa Monica, California
Deeperspective, Flowers East at London Fields, London
Susan Duval Gallery, Aspen, Colorado

1998
Perspectivity, Flowers West, Santa Monica, California
Perverspective, Flowers East at London Fields, London
Reverspective, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

1997
Deutsche Museum, Munich
Patrick Hughes, Lexus Centre, Jeddah
Studio Show, London
Reverspective, Flowers East at London Fields, London
Patrick Hughes Multiples, Belloc Lowndes, Chicago
1996
Superspective, Flowers East at London Fields, London
Patrick Hughes at Susan Kasen Summers, New York

1995
Belloc Lowndes Fine Art, Chicago

1994
Vanishing Points, City Art Galleries, Manchester
Retroperspectives, Flowers East at London Fields, London

1993
Made in Perspective, Flowers East at London Fields, London
The Shadow of War and Other Works, Angela Flowers Gallery, London

1992
Beyond the Rainbow, Flowers Graphics, London

1991
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, Worthing
Vanishing Points, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Sunderland
A New Perspective, Flowers East, London
Vanishing Points, Flowers East, London

1990
A New Perspective, Flowers East, London

1989
Fifteen Years of Prints 1973-1988, Flowers East, London

1988
Patrick Hughes, Angela Flowers Gallery, London 
50 Watercolours, Dean Clough Art Gallery, Halifax

1986
Studio Show, London (Watercolours)
The Watercolours of Patrick Hughes, Salthouse Gallery, St. Ives, Cornwall

1985
Trapping the Elusive, Angela Flowers Gallery, London 
Patrick Hughes, Angela Flowers Gallery, London
Studio Show, London (Watercolours)

1983
Pictures, Angela Flowers Gallery, London 
Bede Gallery, Jarrow
Edward Weston Galleries, New York
Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh
Hereford City Art Gallery, Hereford 

1981
Mendelson Gallery, Pittsburgh 
Gallery 39, Manchester

1980
Patrick Hughes: Prints, Alberta College of Art, Canada
Gouaches and Prints, Angela Flowers Gallery, London
Patrick Hughes, Thumb Gallery, London

1979
Limited Editions, London 
Penwith Galleries, St. Ives, Cornwall

1978
New Paintings, Angela Flowers Gallery, London 
Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
Tom Caldwell Gallery, Dublin
Gallery 39, Manchester

1977
Prints and Other Things, Newlyn Orion Galleries, Newlyn

1976
Angela Flowers Gallery, London
Jordan Gallery, London
Prints and Other Things, Wills Lane Gallery, St. Ives, Cornwall

1973
Patrick Hughes, Angela Flowers Gallery, London 

1971
Angela Flowers Gallery, London 

1970
Angela Flowers Gallery, London

1963
Portal Gallery, London

1961
Portal Gallery, London
King Street Gallery, Cambridge

Videos


Patrick Hughes' Perplexing Perspectives
Patrick Hughes
Patrick Hughes creates paintings that come alive through the motion created by optical illusions and makes viewers interact with his works in an active way. Each plane of his pictures shrinks or expands to accommodate the movement of the onlooker, in perfect harmony, like a good dance partner. Discover more about his technique and his philosophy in this short clip!