The work of UK artist Patrick Hughes lends itself to viewing by way of photographs even less than sculpture, which is unsurprising in that it is essentially a combination of painting and sculptural elements.
Sculpture, to be properly appreciated, must be experienced by moving through the physical space in which it exists, which changes your view of it until multiple views from various angles form a composite, three dimensional image in your mind (see my comments on Bernini).
Hughes creates paintings that change as you move past them, almost like the illusions created by lenticular displays, but Hugh’s illusions are based on a sound knowledge of perspective, both linear and forced.
He has created an intriguing method of using reverse forced perspective, painted onto angular three-dimsnsional supports, to allow the images from multiple physical planes to be perceived as a single image, the elements of which change their physical shapes and relationships when the viewer changes position relative to the work.
To get an idea of how this works, you must view his paintings in videos that change the camera’s position relative to the work, giving you the effect of walking by them. The illusion of unity is so remarkable that video is also the only photographic way you can grasp the dimensionality of the pieces.
There is a large video here, that starts with a brief exposition by Hughes before showing you the effect, a shorter one on his home page and another by a third party on Flickr that shows his remarkable piece, Paradoxymoron, that is in the basement of the British Library in London, from multiple angles. There is also a video of his accordion-fold “multiples” on his News page.
Hughes calls the principle “Reverspective“, meaning “…three-dimensional paintings that when viewed from the front initially give the impression of viewing a painted flat surface that shows a perspective view”. He even has scientific papers on the effect and a discussion of the perspective principles on which it is based.
The above images only hint at the process. View the video to see the effect.
Hughes’ paintings often make wry reference to other artists’ work.
5 Replies to “Patrick Hughes”
Glasgow Museum of Modern Art used to have 3 Patrick Hughes piece on display and they are just wonderful to see.
One I always remember was a series of Eastern European Apartment buildings that went from beautifully sun-lit with overflowing flower boxes to ruinous shells decaying in the shadows. If you get the opportunity to see one of Mr. Hughes works in close up I really recommend it.
I was lucky enough to hear Mr. Hughes discuss how he made his work and always remember him saying that over 50% had to be discarded due to minor flaws either in the construction of the canvases or the perspective of the drawings.
Thats true devotion to your art.
Thanks, Melissa. I’m hoping to have the chance to see his work in person, but at the moment, there’s nothing close.
I used to work for an art gallery in South Florida that rep’ed Patrick. His work always stopped people in their tracks and even tripped me up every time I walked past. However, it’s pretty hard to convey it’s effect in a two dimensional photograph.
They were also really heavy.
Thanks for the insight. Interesting thought about their weight.
Another interesting fact is the angle at which the optical effect no longer works. It’s is meant to be looked at strait on, but it works at a 45 degree angle and even as much as 35 degrees (if that makes any sense).
Also, we had lower priced edition prints, some pre-assembled and others one could assemble themselves to mimic the optical illusion.
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