Art that really jumps off the canvas

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.”

One of Patrick Hughes’ 3-​​D relief paint­ings on dis­play in the main gallery at Gallery 360. Photo by Mariah Tauger

One of Patrick Hughes’ 3-​​D relief paint­ings on dis­play in the main gallery at Gallery 360. Photo by Mariah Tauger

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