An observer’s first glance at a 3-D relief painting by Patrick Hughes is usually followed by a smile, according to the British-born artist.
“It’s amazement and smiles,” said Hughes, 74, during a recent telephone interview. “I’m not quite sure why they smile, but I have always been kind of a humorist in my art. I make things in perspective and then put them in the wrong way.”
Maybe the observer smiles because he doesn’t quite know how else to react to Hughes’ art, which is famous for playing mind games. Hughes is the creator of “reverspective,” an optical illusion on a three-dimensional surface where the parts of the picture that seem farthest away are actually closest to the observer.
“The images seem to move, which is a great thing to have happen from the point of the artist because artists really want their works to come to life,” Hughes explained. “When an artist paints a vase of flowers, he wants people to think it’s an actual vase of flowers when they see it. From my point of view, it’s great that I can make work that comes to life.”
Eight of Hughes’ 3-D paintings are currently on display in Northeastern’s Gallery 360, which is located between Ell Hall and the Curry Student Center. The exhibit, titled “Patrick Hughes, Reverspective,” runs through the end of July.
This is not the first time Hughes’ work has been seen on campus. His piece titled “University Perspective,” which depicts scenes from Northeastern’s campus, is on permanent display near the entrance to the Curry Student Center bookstore.
“Patrick Hughes’ painting ‘University Perspective’ has long been an icon here on campus, so inviting him to do a larger exhibit at Gallery 360 was a natural decision,” said Bruce Ployer, the campus curator. “The curation focused on his thematic paintings of other well-known artists and his new 3-D print work, and it showcases his unique ability to capture perspective. His paintings are unexpected and engaging, and we’ve received a tremendous response to the work.”
Famous artists including Pablo Picaso, Andy Warhol, and Piet Mondrain inspired some of Hughes’ paintings in the exhibit, whose awe-inspiring brilliance hinges on his manipulation of space. “I’ve found a new way to depict and represent space,” Hughes said. “The theme is that the paradox or the opposite is a better way of doing things than the straight forward, or the realistic, or the normal way.”