Gallery 532 Thomas Jaeckel is pleased to present the paintings of Ian Hughes in his second one-man show at the gallery.
In this new body of work, Hughes brings to full fruition the investigation of color, space, and form that has been underway for nearly two decades. The new paintings continue to probe an artistic vein that runs from the eye to the brain and terminates in the viscera. The color field is repurposed as a visual staging area upon which organic forms, vascular and sinuous, shape-shift and commingle. The luminous color space of the background is simultaneously flat and volumetric, like a cloudless sky; it is a resolutely abstract space that asserts the two dimensional nature of painting and creates a dynamic contrast to the illusion of volume in the foreground.
In two related works, Yellow Curtain and Strands (Pink Curtain), the background color acts like a light box, illuminating the transparent forms from behind, analogous to an x-ray image. The reference to curtains has multiple meanings, most literally to the vertical strands hanging from the top and arranged across the picture plane like a beaded curtain (though admittedly, maybe more like flayed meat hanging on a drying rack.) But the transparency of the forms also suggests a diaphanous veil through which the viewer must pass to reach the other side, where lies another world–the world of metaphor and myth. Art historical references also abound, perhaps most poignantly to Morris Louis, whose name Hughes readily invokes as a source of inspiration.
Hughes’ technique is deceptively straightforward. Water is the medium; pigment dispersions and acrylic polymer yield color and form. Together they are poured, floated, and brushed onto the prepared surface; the dance between intent and accident, consciousness and unconsciousness, is set into motion. For Hughes, technique is purely a means to an end. Most important is the degree to which the technique serves the desire to create a state of visual and interpretive flux.
In this endeavor, Hughes aligns himself squarely within the tradition of painters like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, whose groundbreaking ideas gave rise to a main branch of contemporary American abstraction which espouses the possibility of conveying the full range of human experience through the raw materials of paint and renders moot the distinction between abstraction and figuration.