Hang-Up Gallery proudly presents a solo show by British artist and inventor of ‘reverspective’ Patrick Hughes, celebrating sixty-years since his first exhibition and twenty-five years living and working in East London. Nearly all the pieces on show are new and have not been exhibited before, many were created during lockdown in Hughes’ Hoxton studio. The show will include a collection of limited-edition prints, Hughes’ world famous three-dimensional reverse perspective paintings, an illustrated timeline of his significant career and new sculptural works which continue Hughes’ lifelong investigation into paradoxical perspectives, language, and the psychology of perception. Hang-Up will host a live Q&A with Patrick Hughes and former BBC arts correspondent Rosie Millard on the 25 November.
Hughes has had a long relationship with the city of London, and latterly the east end – an area he once referred to as “Shoxton and Whoreditch” a spoonerism that has stuck in his mind ever since. A colourful and quixotic character, Hughes ran away from Hull to London aged 17, lived at the Chelsea Arts Club, spent time at the Colony Room Club and took up residence in Hackney long before the rich and stylish even dared to visit. Hang-Up are delighted to exhibit his works, only a stones’ throw from his studio in a former varnish factory where he has lived and worked for over twenty-five years.
Hughes’ iconic reverse perspectives explore the nature of perception by way of optical illusion, he explains: “The illusion is made possible by painting the view in reverse to the relief of the surface, that is, the bits that stick farthest out from the painting are painted with the most distant part of the scene”. Hughes’ work is deeply referential, including depictions of iconic artworks by artists through the ages, from Roy Lichtenstein to Keith Haring, Mark Rothko to Paul Klee and Damien Hirst to Banksy. These re-imaginings of famous works play with the viewers sense of recognition, creating fictional galleries in impossible, painted places.
Hughes fluctuates between homage and homily in his inclusion of the works of others, offering the viewer unusual visual histories of art and provoking humour at every turn. He emphasises the importance of viewing artwork, including his own, in person and experiencing creativity first-hand.
Born in October 1939 in Birmingham, the artist grew up in an unhappy household, finding refuge in books and his imagination. Hughes’ passion for understanding perspective began at age four when he would sleep in the cupboard under the stairs and look up at their underside as bombs flew overhead during World War II. The upside-down stairs made a strong impression on his psyche, and he has made a life-long career out of doing things the other way round.
Patrick opened his first solo exhibition at the Portal Gallery, Mayfair in 1961. It was the first one-man show by a so-called ‘Pop Artist’ and a huge success. He made two of his seminal works, Infinity in 1963, inspired by standing on the railway station at Leeds and looking at the railway tracks, and his first reverspective, the Sticking-out Room in 1964.
The first half of the 1970s saw Patrick living in Chelsea and Ladbroke Grove and painting the rainbows he became synonymous with. The rainbows became very popular as prints, over the years about 1,000,000 rainbow postcards and 10,000 screenprints have been sold. People thought the rainbows were cheerful, but Patrick felt they were misunderstood; they were acts of subversion, visual puns. His interest lay in the contradiction of fixing an experience or event into a solid thing. Patrick met Angela Flowers in 1970, who was setting up her own gallery and asked him to be her first artist. He went onto show with Flowers Gallery until 2018.
After a stint in New York, Patrick returned to London in 1983 and stayed at the Chelsea Art Club, with a studio in Notting Hill Gate. In 1985 he began to look at the relation between representation and reality through works such as Self-criticism. At this moment, he returned to the reverse perspective of his previous work of twenty years earlier, Sticking-out Room. In 1987 Patrick married the historian and writer, Dr. Diane Atkinson. Together they moved to Great Eastern Street, Hoxton, where they live today, converting an industrial Edwardian warehouse space into a vibrant home and studio.