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Don’t Tell Anyone But …
April 19, 2013 – June 15, 2013
Shara Hughes: Don’t Tell Anyone But …
Curated by Stuart Horodner
Shara Hughes is an Atlanta-based artist whose paintings combine elements of landscape, still life, and figuration to dizzying effect.
Her canvases slide easily between abstraction and representation, establishing stage-like spaces occupied by bodies and objects. Her paintings are influenced by European and American art traditions and tensions, and she reconciles them with her own pictorial voice, albeit one that gives a shout out to artists including Henri Matisse, David Hockney, Albert Oehlen, and Dana Schutz, to name a few. Like these predecessors, she is a restless maker, shifting scales and media, and maintaining a strong link to the domestic and popular culture.
It is not surprising that Hughes’s paintings have led her to sculpture, and during the past year she has been making large and small assemblages with Pop-infused Cubist attitude. Built with wood, cardboard, canvas, foam, and various found or store-bought items, these 3-D works are the physical manifestation of her 2-D imagery, exuding a comic and clunky theatricality that one might associate with early Claes Oldenburg. Hughes would certainly recognize her own sensibility in Oldenburg’s 1961 manifesto, “I Am for an Art”, which contains the statement:
I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself,
that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips,
and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
Talking in her studio recently, surrounded by canvases and sculptures in process, Hughes said, “I feel like I‘m in one of my paintings. Nothing is totally finished and I’m moving around, doing my thing. An idea sparks something that turns into something else, and as much as I tell it what to do, it tells me, too.” These shifts result in totems and platforms, a façade of brushed bricks with a mannequin leg attached, and assorted containers, cups, cigarette butts, and paint puddles. Hughes is clearly enjoying playing fast and loose with an expanded palette of ideas, images, and things.
This is Hughes’ first solo exhibition in Atlanta. She is the recipient of the 2012/2103 MOCA GA Working Artist Project fellowship award, and has had solo exhibitions at American Contemporary and Rivington Arms in New York, Museum 52 in London, and Mikael Anderson in Copenhagen and Berlin.
This exhibition is supported by the Women’s Caucus for Art of Georgia.
Image: Shara Hughes, Don’t Tell Anyone But … (installation view), 2013
Photo by Mike Jensen