Artist marks sixty years of pop art and reverse perspectives

Patrick Hughes All Over 2020

Patrick Hughes All Over 2020 - Credit: Courtesy of Hang Up Gallery

It's 60 years since Patrick Hughes' first exhibition, and 25 years since he set up home and workspace in a former Hoxton varnish factory.

Now the 82-year-old has a new show at Hang Up Gallery, a stone's throw from his Great Eastern Street studio. The Perspective Paradox features mostly new work created during lockdown, including limited edition prints of his trademark three-dimensional reverse perspective paintings, sculptures, and an illustrated timeline of his eventful career. 

A colourful character, who once referred to his East End stomping ground as "shoxton and whoreditch," Hughes had an unhappy childhood before running away from Hull aged 17. An early epiphany came while lying under the stairs aged four during a World War II air raid and looking up to see the reverse perspective of the upside down staircase.

Lusty by Patrick Hughes

Lusty by Patrick Hughes - Credit: Courtesy of the artist/Hang Up Gallery

In London he hung out at the famous Colony Room Club, and held his successful debut show at The Portal Gallery Mayfair in 1961 - the first one man show by a pop artist. 1963's Infinity is a seminal work inspired by standing on a railway station at Leeds looking at the tracks, and 1964 saw his first reverspective The Sticking Room.

These witty 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 - the bits that stick farthest out from the painting are painted with the most distant part of the scene."

Patrick Hughes The Perspective Paradox runs at Hang-Up Gallery Hoxton from October 29.

Patrick Hughes The Perspective Paradox runs at Hang-Up Gallery Hoxton from October 29. - Credit: Hang-Up Gallery

"When the principles of perspective are reversed and solidified into sculpted paintings, something extraordinary happens; the mind is deceived into believing the impossible, that a static painting can move of its own accord."

In the 1970s he lived in Chelsea and Ladbroke Grove and became synonymous with painting rainbows, which became popular as prints and postcards. While many thought them cheerful, Hughes felt they were misunderstood; he saw them as acts of subversion, visual puns.

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By the 80s he was living at the Chelsea Arts Club before moving to Hackney with wife, historian Dr Diane Atkinson.

The Perspective Paradox continues his exploration of pop-art, language, the psychology of perception and referential re imaginings of other artworks by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Mark Rothko and Paul Klee and Damien Hirst which play with the viewer's sense of recognition.

Poetry in Motion by Patrick Hughes

Poetry in Motion by Patrick Hughes - Credit: Courtesy of the artist/Hang Up Gallery

Hughes, whose work is held in collections including the Tate, V&A, British Library, says: “I can see now from the perspective of sixty years making art that in the first half of my career I was interested in showing people the paradox of life, but in the second half, with my reverspective three-dimensional paintings, I let people experience this paradox for themselves."

The Perspective Paradox runs at Hang-Up Gallery, Branch Place, N1 from October 29-December 16.