Patrick Hughes on La Brea
The library is an infinite perspective, like the work and the city. Escaperspective is the one promulgated very famously by Valéry (taking up the note from Mallarmé’s “Sea Breeze”) in “The Graveyard by the Sea”, beyond all this (constructs and collects of all and sundry kinds) is the river, or the sea, or the hills.
There is, the book considered infinite as well, Hughes’ own More on Oxymoron (2004), deployed across the board as open pages facing, the sea between. The text is indeterminate (viewed from a distance), the illustrations in black and white convey, for instance, a trick wand.
The magic is a continuing perspective in vertical and horizontal planes, generated by the Agam construction of the surface. A raised vertical angle has representations of Warhol (Elizabeth Taylor, Mao, Marilyn Monroe) painted as diminishing perspectives (to the point), which two eyes convert into the walls of a gallery, the multiple images of his work conveyed as a possession of the eye (Ad Infinitum, 2004). Lichtenstein and Magritte (who has the sign-painter’s hand here) are regaled with similar representations (The Joy of Roy, Magrittes, both 2004).
In Front of the Back (2004) offers folded canvases seen from the stretcher side, in the manner of the book. In Memory of Marcel Marien (2000) is a more complex composition, involving a cube in a corner that is a die, a window, a door, articulated walls.
Observe the progression of the work recently. Skye (2001) is a fine landscape, refined still further in Arcadyllic (2005). Heather and mountains rendered by application of true luster in stereoscopic vision, the eye engaged by the foregrounds, aerial perspective, forced perspective, Escaperspective. A ticklish fountain of painterly problems in backgrounds, reduction of details, while becoming really more accurate, supplemented by visual illusion, resolved.
These are the articles of thought, rendered as perceptions, given freedom by the mind as the result of the eyes’ deceitfulness brought to bear on a regular application of irregularity oppositely placed by the painter in a row of reversible angles as seaside tents (In Tents, 2005) in various colors, striped, say.
Keller & Greene have The McGuffin (2004) in the front window, skyscrapers side by side (rectangular prisms) with a landscape now visible. Seen from the sidewalk, advancing toward the door, a pleasant appreciation after the closing of Flowers West at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, where some of the best works of the artist met with little favor, unaccountably, as if the city were a backwater.
Indeed, one small part of the charm of these paintings is a clear, but incidental, style of London appertaining to them. Clear and bright, not exacting or hard, fully realized and yet agreeable to the mind’s eye.