Click on photos to enlarge.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Patrick Hughes

Morgan Unusual, 2012, Patrick Hughes
Four-point perspective.
The art and science of perspective is some six-hundred years old. At first, artists toyed with it as kind of a curious plaything. Then they began employing it in their paintings. As they grew more and more comfortable with this tool for rendering three dimensional illusions on a two-dimensional surface, they began doubling down (so to speak) in using two-point perspective. And during the past century or so, artists have come around to using three-point and even four-point perspective, the rendering of a receding surface to the left, to the right, while at the same time soaring high above and/or falling away below (as in a drawing of a skyscraper from midway up in the skyscraper next door, right). If that sounds confusing and rather impractical, don't worry, it's seldom done; not to mention the fact that it's more theoretical than realistic. It's enough to know it can be done.
Sticking Out Room, 1964, Patrick Hughes
Brick Door, 1964,
Patrick Hughes
Perspective, in general (there are various permutations) has remained an important, though not very exciting or glamorous tool in the accomplished artist's working kit for centuries now garnering little or no fanfare and drama. That is, little or none until the British painter, Patrick Hughes, began to toy with the age-old plaything a few decades ago. He called what he did "reverse perspective," since shortened to "reverspective." His first such work, Sticking out Room (above), dates from 1964. Not since M.C. Escher half a century before had any artist used perspective to play with our minds as did Hughes. Strangely though, Hughes treated this early effort as something of a gimmick or novelty, moving on to the more mundane conflict between words and images such as Brick Door (left) from the same period. Then, some thirty years later, Hughes returned to the concept in the early 1990s. His painting, Jazz (below), is typical of what he's done since.

Hughes' 2010 painting, Jazz (top) when compared to it's compositional diagram illustrates the workings of reverspective. The white rectangles are the tops of three truncated pyramids jutting toward the viewer. The light gray is the upper sides, the
dark gray the lower sides. Stare at the diagram until your mind adjusts
to this concept, then move back to the painting above it.
Basically, reverspective involves a creating a conflict between a painted illusion and the actual painted surface. The illusion recedes while the surface juts forward. Thus, when viewed straight on as in Morgan Unusual (top), the image seems relatively normal, a room, furniture, canal, street (whatever), receding to an opening in the rear. It's only as one changes one's own perspective that the mind's normal perception...well...loses it. That which appeared to be at a distance suddenly begins to invade the usually sacrosanct space between the viewer and the painting while what appeared nearest the viewer recedes. The photo below, and especially the video at the bottom demonstrates this mind-bending experience.

Patrick Hughes poses next to one of his reverspective paintings.
Liquorice, Allsorts, 1960, Patrick Hughes.
Patrick Hughes was born in 1939, a native of Birmingham, England. He attended school in Hull, went to college in Leeds, and eventually taught at the Leeds College of Art during which time he began to work as an independent artist. His early works, such as Liquorice Allsorts (left) from 1960, toys with Pop Art without embracing it as Hughes seemed more interested in oxymoronic words and images than popular culture.

Doors of Knowledge,
2010, Patrick Hughes
Today Hughes works out of a studio in London. He and his third wife live upstairs over the studio. And though Hughes' Reverspective paintings have essentially "made" his name as an artist, Hughes is far from a "one hit wonder." More recently he has been experimenting with Photorealism as seen in his Man Ray Photorealism (below), and large scale installations such as his Doors of Knowledge (right) from 2010, which explores his reverspective on a larger scale.

Man Ray Photorealism, 2009, Patrick Hughes


Click on the additional videos available at the end of this clip for more on
Patrick Hughes and Reverspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment