Phoenix 369 Gallery, Edinburgh
Selected paintings from this exhibition.
St. Peter, Oil on canvas (45cm x 30cm), 2004
Thomas, Oil on canvas, 2004
Bartholomew, Oil on canvas (note original is in colour), 2004
Matthias, Oil on canvas (note original is in colour), 2004
Simon Peter, Oil on canvas (note original is in colour), 2004
Beyond the Surface
by George Chalmers
Ian Hughes was born in Glasgow in the 50’s. Attended Art College in Dundee in the 70’s and got shot at in Moscow in the 90’s. A radical, and in some cases, sadly neglected approach to art criticism and one that might find favour with Mr. Hughes. Himself a juxtaposition of life and art in fractured intensity. “Warhol only painted the surface” - is a Hughes’ quote from 1994 that resonates in today’s rush towards easy celebrity and self- regarding art forms.
His latest exhibition; ‘Testaments Betrayed’; is a series of portraits depicting the twelve disciples as recognisable outcasts seen wandering our contemporary landscape. Images of the homeless and rootless who inhabit the doorways and hostels of any large city. Individualised faces, seeking more than spare change. The painterly narrative seduces the viewer into some (projected) tragedy behind the battered features of men, ‘loved by the gutter’, (as Verlaine would judge; and, as a dedicated absinthe drinker, judge himself). ‘Alcohol I pronounce you method’, said Verlaine. Ian Hughes paints himself as an incomplete Judas, the ‘divided self’ shown and concealed behind a betrayal of method. “You can lie about anything - except art”, is a frequent remark. Although acutely aware of Picasso’s contention that, ‘Art is the lie that helps us realise the truth’.
In the early 90’s, working as a psychiatric nurse, Ian received extensive facial injuries when attacked by a patient wielding an oxygen bottle. Titanium plates supported by pharmaceutical scaffolding help maintain his facade. The obsessive truths portrayed in ‘Testaments Betrayed’ (every broken vein, every flaw in every image) continues the process of self-maintenance and ‘reconstruction’.