Ronnie Hughes is one of Ireland’s most dynamic abstract painters. Hughes’ elegant and poised works are executed with complex technical skill yet retain a lightness of touch. While his finished paintings display a diversity of styles, at heart they share a common concern with the lived experience, and what Hughes has described as “the beauty, the fragility and the violence of being.”
Ronnie Hughes’ works evolve over a long time and are generally process-driven to the extent that there is no plan or, in most cases, any sense of the outcome until the works are close to completion. “My role is to steer and nuance their evolution; to balance the elements and, just as often, to disrupt them resulting in the emergence of waves, nebulae, constellations, lattice structures and fields”.
In recent years Hughes’ work has become more ‘optically’ charged, colour and shape are presented as vibrational energies where the haptic qualities that a painting’s surface contains and its ability to record, hold and represent time are amplified.
Hughes’ work is complex and multi-dimensional. The painted surface is constructed through a layering of stratas revealing a range of associative and representational qualities simultaneously. What appears to be random or chaotic is revealed to have a hidden template, structure or pattern, the regimented order of which is constantly gnawed at and undermined.
“I’m interested in exposing these unseen forces, the things that lie beneath appearance. The physical act of making a painting is for me an act of discovery, a quest to extract a veiled or hidden reality. I try to make paintings that reward careful looking and that encourage contemplation”.
About the Artist
Born in Belfast in 1965, Ronnie Hughes studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast, receiving an MA in Fine Art in 1989. Hughes has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout Ireland and beyond (including Butler Gallery, Context, Goethe Institute, Hugh Lane Golden Bough, Limerick City Gallery, Millennium Court, the Model, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Pulse Miami, Royal Hibernian Academy, Rubicon Gallery, Sirius Arts Centre and Steve Turner Los Angeles) and has participated in many group exhibitions worldwide.
Hughes’ work has been written about extensively and he has received a multitude of awards including a one-year residency in New York (PS1, 1990-91) and three-month residencies at Banff Arts Center, Canada (1994) and Bemis Arts Center, Nebraska (1997). In 2006 he was awarded both the ‘Irish Artist Fellowship’ - a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center and a two-month residency at the ‘Albers Foundation’ in Connecticut.
Hughes’ work is held in many public and corporate collections, including both Irish Arts Councils and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. He has lived in County Sligo since 1995 when he began lecturing in Fine Art at the Institute of Technology Sligo.
Hughes is represented by Gibbons and Nicholas and Fenderesky Gallery.
Main image: Palimpsest, Acrylic co-polymer on canvas, 188 x 147.5 cm, 2021
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