Patrick Hughes

Biography of Patrick Hughes

British artist Patrick Hughes’ most celebrated contribution to the history of art is his invention of the “reverspective” painting. Through optical illusions and disorienting visual trickery, the artist seeks to engage with people and their physical and psychological relationship to the world. Of primary concern in his work is the human relationship between representation and reality.


Patrick Hughes’ fascination with philosophical explorations, and specifically with the paradoxes, is central to his oeuvre. His earliest works explored ideas of illusion and perception through naturally occurring phenomena, particularly the rainbow. After exploring the possibilities of perspectival manipulation in two-dimension, he began reconstructing the very surfaces onto which he painted.


Patrick Hughes made his first three-dimensional reliefs as early as 1964, driven by his desire to connect with people through a new form of visual engagement. Half a century later, his works are still as challenging as ever to the audience, disorienting us through their deceptive manipulations of perspective.


Patrick Hughes’ reverspectives consist of one or more truncated pyramids protruding from the flat planes. Upon these areas, Patrick Hughes meticulously paints the areas of the scene that ought to be receding–the back of a room, the end of a road, the distant horizon. The paintings are perfectly calculated so that Hughes’ playful paradoxes appear at once accurate and inexplicable. What seem like flat landscape paintings from afar begin to jump out at us sharply as we approach them, and most strangely of all, the areas that appeared furthest away turn out to be physically closest to us.


The work of Patrick Hughes (b. 1939) can be found in many notable public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate, the British Council, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Frankfurt and the Denver Art Museum in the USA. Patrick Hughes has exhibited his work widely in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Alongside his artistic career, Patrick Hughes has written several books on philosophy, and was a professor at the Leeds College of Art in England. 

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