Artist Shara Hughes on Her Painting 'POP' | Louisiana Channel



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“How could I make a painting about one flower that has multiple layers to it?” American artist Shara Hughes about her painting POP, why the genre of still life was a thing of the past and needed to be updated.

“The flowers can be overpowering and they are larger than us. They are taking over you instead of us picking them. It is taking back its control.”

Shara Hughes (b. 1981) uses dizzying brushwork, vibrant colours, and shifting perspectives to make paintings that defy many of the existing conventions associated with the landscape genre. Natural motifs and patterned elements recur throughout Hughes’s pictures: snake-like trees, floating moons, distorted reflections in bodies of water, and stippled night skies appear in various permutations, synchronized with harder-to-define forms in which abstract and representational impulses co-exist in unorthodox harmony. Hughes’s process rarely involves reference images. Instead, she transposes the psychological complexity of her interior world into lush and layered compositions. She often mixes pigment directly atop her surfaces, and in this way creates intuitive, one-of-a-kind colour palettes that simultaneously point to art historical movements like colour field painting and Post-Impressionism. As she engages with these open-ended experiments in image-making, Hughes depicts kaleidoscopic visions of flora and fauna in processes of constant evolution.

Shara Hughes earned a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and later attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She describes her lush, vibrantly chromatic images of hills, rivers, trees and shorelines, often framed by abstract patterning, as “invented landscapes.” Full of gestural effect, surface tactility and possessing a fairytale mood of reverie, these paintings, as the New Yorker described them, “use every trick in the book to seduce, but still manage to come off as guileless visions of not-so-far-away worlds.” Bold, clashing colours and shifting perspectives manifest into dream-like landscapes that push and pull the eye across the canvas, challenging conventions of space. Rather than depicting true to life landscapes, Hughes invites us into a fantastical world offered as a portal for psychological discovery and reflection.
Shara Hughes is an American painter. In 2017, Hughes was included in the Whitney Biennial, and her works are held in the collections of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., the Si Shang Art Museum in Beijing, and the St. Louis Art Museum, among others. Recent solo exhibitions were shown at Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Garden Museum, London, Aspen Museum of Art, Colorado and Le Consortium, Dijon, France, the Arts Club in London, The Newport Art Museum, Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. She lives and works in New York City.
Shara Hughes was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2021.

Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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