Patrick Hughes

Patrick Hughes (b.1939)

Born in Birmingham in 1939, Patrick Hughes is a British surrealist painter and printmaker, who currently lives and works in London. He is widely recognised as one of Britain's top contemporary artists.

In 1959, Hughes joined James Graham Teachers' Training College , Leeds , to train to be an English teacher, but he quickly became disillusioned. A teacher suggested he consider art instead, so Hughes moved to Leeds Day College, where he studied and taught art. Hughes held his first solo exhibition at the Portal Gallery in 1961. For three years he taught in Leeds schools before becoming a senior lecturer in painting and drawing at Leeds College of Arts from 1964-1969. In 1970, after a year studying art education at London University, Hughes taught for four years at Chelsea and Wolverhampton Schools of Art.

“Hughes' work is full of irony. By creating a world solidified into perspective he makes pictures that come alive before our eyes”. - Murray McDonald, April 2002.

Artists such as Paul Klee, Rene Magritte, and Marcel Duchamp have influenced Hughes' work. Hughes' early works have a strong element of humour, featuring unusual perspectives, rainbows and visual paradoxes. In fact it was Hughes' aim from the start to paint paradoxes. Hughes made his first reverse perspective painting in 1964. His reverse perspective works are crafted so that the image seems to move as the viewer walks past. These works show how the eye can trick the brain into seeing what is not there. Hughes has commented: "I believe they have an experience, unlike any other, in which they see the impossible happen…. If lookers and seers experience the paradoxical and reciprocal relation between parts of the world and themselves, they get a sense of the flow of life”.

Hughes' fascination with the paradoxical image can be found throughout his work. In his original prints, Hughes has a unique way of exploiting the 3D use of space and colour to produce dynamic perspectives. An early theme that he often returned to is that of the rainbow, in particular 'wrong' rainbows. His ‘wrong rainbows' have colours that are out of sequence or simplified, and the rainbows are placed in circumstances that contradict their momentary nature and fragility. Hughes has explained “a rainbow is a transitory event composed of water, air and light…..I tried to give them mass, permanence and persona.” The rainbow really is the star of Hughes' paradoxical work. A considerable body of these rainbow works exists in galleries and collections around the globe.

Hughes has exhibited with Angela Flowers Gallery, London since 1970 and was included in an exhibition of Surrealist pictures at Crawshaw Gallery in 1988. He has written and collated three books on visual and verbal rhetoric. Hughes' work is exhibited in numerous cities around the world and can be found in many important museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in Glasgow, Tate Gallery in London, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, University of Houston in Texas, and the Deutsche Bibliothek in Frankfurt.

To find out more see:

John Slyce (1998) Patrick Hughes: Perverspective, Momentum, London.

Brian Smith and Patrick Hughes (1983) Behind the Rainbow, Paradox Publishing Limited, London.