Famed British artist Patrick Hughes donates artwork to Institute of Philosophy

Thursday 23 May 2013

The surrealist artist Patrick Hughes - famed for his work on perspective and the creator of ‘reverse perspective’ – will tonight unveil his donated artwork The Books of Venice at the Institute of Philosophy in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

The unveiling of the three-dimensional artwork by the Vice-Chancellor will conclude the first day of a two-day interdisciplinary workshop at the Institute’s Centre for the Study of the Senses. Pictorial Paradoxes brings together leading philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists and other experts in aesthetics and the arts to explore the way in which the brain resolves paradoxes and ambiguities in the normal retinal image and in visual art.

Patrick Hughes will give a talk in the afternoon at the workshop, entitled Paradoxymoron. He will talk about his intellectual origins in Surrealism and the Renaissance perspective.  He will relate a theory of visual perception to proprioception (the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement).

Commenting on his decision to donate the artwork to the Institute, Hughes said: ‘There is no better place to put a picture like The Books of Venice which I think questions how we perceive space, how we see and fail to see, than at the Institute of Philosophy, devoted as it is to exposing poor thinking and delving into what is really there.’

Patrick Hughes, aged 73, has been exhibiting for more than 50 years. His first exhibition was at London’s Portal Gallery in 1961 and he has been represented by Flowers since 1970.

Patrick Hughes - Déjà vu, 1976

Hughes’ fascination with the illusion of perspective began in the 1960s with works like Infinity (1963), Three Doors (1964) and The Space Ruler (1965). In the 1970s he hung his investigations of perception and illusion on the motif of the rainbow in a series of prints and paintings, including Pile of Rainbows (1973), Prison Rainbow (1973) and Leaning on a Landscape (1979).

His first ‘reverse perspective’ or ‘reverspective’ was Sticking Out Room (1964), later a life-size room for the Institute of Contemporary Arts. He returned to explore the possibilities of reverspective in 1990 with Up the Line and Down the Road (1991). Since then, his reverspectives have been shown in London, New York, Santa Monica, Seoul, Chicago, Munich, Toronto, and San Francisco in September 2013.

Renowned neuroscientist Professor Colin Blakemore, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, said: ‘I’m immensely grateful to Patrick for this generous gift. I have known Patrick for many years and, with the help of these works, we have collaborated on how the brain responds to different depth cues. This remarkable work will give everyone the opportunity to try visual experiment themselves.’

Director of the Institute, Professor Barry Smith said: ‘We are delighted to have one of these wonderful, puzzling and beguiling pieces of work by Patrick. The Centre for the Study of the Senses at the Institute is an ideal home for a work that engages the eye and the intellect equally. It’s a source of great pleasure that we have this relationship with Patrick Hughes.’

– Ends –

Notes for editors:

1. For further information and to request an interview please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study at dee.burn@sas.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7862 8670. Images available on request.

2. Patrick Hughes was born in Birmingham in 1939, whence he has never returned. His solo show in 1961 was the first by a so-called Pop Artist.  He taught at Leeds College of Art in the 1960s. He has published four books about verbal and visual rhetoric, Vicious Circles and Infinity, (with George Brecht), Upon the Pun, (with Paul Hammond), More on Oxymoron (on his own) and most recently Paradoxymoron.  He has been with the Angela Flowers Gallery for over forty years.  Patrick is interested in making pictures simply.  He is a formalist, interested in a Paul Klee-like way with the geometric design of art and in a Magritte-like way in getting to the bottom of representation and reproduction. His paradoxical perspective pictures of the last twenty years are his most successful, and he says the form is sufficiently intriguing for him to concentrate on it for the rest of his life.

3. The Institute of Philosophy was founded in 2005, building upon and developing the work of the Philosophy Programme from 1995–2005. The Institute’s mission is to promote and support philosophy of the highest quality in all its forms, both inside and outside the University, and across the UK. Its activities divide into three kinds: events, fellowships and research facilitation.

4. The Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes) at the Institute of Philosophy has an international Scientific Board comprising philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. The aim of the centre is to foster interdisciplinary research on the senses by identifying research groupings to pursue specialised topics of benefit to the participating disciplines.

5. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the facilitation and promotion of research in the humanities and social sciences. The School brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of 10 prestigious research institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, Study of the Americas, and The Warburg Institute.