532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel is pleased to present INSIDE OUT, an exhibition of paintings by Ian Hughes, an outstanding mid-career painter, in his first one-person show in a New York gallery. Hughes’ paintings (here represented by large, medium and small scale works) re-examine and renew the always delicate relationship between color and form. Hughes’ forms are strangely suggestive, but of what exactly: primordial ooze, cell division run amok, fragments of the cosmos, a frozen oil spill, decay or growth, plant, animal, or human? As the painted forms shift and mutate, so do the associations. Everything is in flux. A form is related, via color shifts, to an adjacent form, which itself is related to another, then another. This set of internal relationships causes the viewer’s eye to move about the canvas, picking out new ideas. Each interior form in a Hughes canvas can activate a different memory. Taken together, they can create a new universe of ideas for the viewer.
How does he do this? Perhaps it’s Hughes’ technique that causes this startling effect. He grounds each canvas with an opaque color space that serves as a staging area for the growth of volumetric forms. Indeed, Hughes thinks of his canvasses as stage sets upon which multiple dramas play out, not least of which is the dance between human willfulness and natural accident. Acrylic paint is brushed and poured onto the surface, looking for just the right balance between form and content. The paint moves across the surface, spreading and pooling, in some places a coagulant of thick skin, in other places a transparent film. He then selectively repaints, articulating forms, often with sharply contrasting colors. The process can take days, months, or years.
Yet an understanding of the artist’s technique doesn’t fully explain the power of Hughes’ work to transport viewers to a palpable yet ephemeral world, where external experience is subsumed to internal feeling. Are these paintings of a “gone” world, or of one to come?
At 532 Gallery, we invite viewers and collectors to stand before Ian Hughes’ work, to spend time with the swirling, colorful forms, while investigating the formal and psychological possibilities of these powerful paintings for themselves.