Icons / November 2019

Artist Patrick Hughes Puts Things in Perspective

A new exhibition at Mayfair’s Bel-Air Fine Art celebrates 60 years of art by Patrick Hughes. We spoke with the artist about his playful and captivating artistic aesthetic and how it informs his sense of style.

For 60 years, Patrick Hughes has been busy capturing the attention and imaginations of many, with his innovative artworks that play with the science of perception and the nature of artistic representation. He is famed for his three-dimensional reverspectives, which create illusions of space and movement, immersing the viewer in an experience of unreality. Now, the artist is celebrating six decades of a distinguished career with a new solo exhibition at London’s Bel-Air Fine Art Gallery in Mayfair. With a playful artistic aesthetic that bleeds into his own personal manner of dress and sense of style, the dapper 80-year-old provided us with some valuable insight into his practice and wardrobe...
Talk me through the key concepts that inform your artistic practice...
Humour and wit and comedy are my preferred procedures, I am not drawn to the conventional ways of tragedy or the pursuit of beauty or personal angst.  I very rarely describe things as beautiful: good-looking or interesting or remarkable would be good enough for me.  I do not think I have ever gone as far as beautiful except for female film stars, not landscapes or art.  Wit is concise, table-turning, imaginative, playful, sometimes ugly, strong and powerful.  I can remember the car journey with my tutor sixty years ago when I announced I was going to go in the direction of humour in my art.
How has your artistic style evolved over the past 60 years?
Over my career in art I have evolved in that when I started I was a naïve artist – I have never done life-drawing – which crude simplicity I linked with design.  At first I was influenced by Paul Klee of the Bauhaus, and I was delighted by his simplicity and childish representations and basic design and geometry.  At the beginning and for twenty years I painted in gloss paint flatly on hardboard in given colours with simple masses making what were sometimes profound and poetic jokes.

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Aobh O'Brien-Moody