Florentine by Patrick Hughes

  • This painting by Patrick Hughes creates an intriguing and perplexing optical illusion
  • Three-dimensional planes create the illusion that the painting is moving as the viewer walks around
  • Hughes employs precise perspective to create this illusion
  • Inspired by elements of Pop Art and Surrealism, Hughes paintings are completely original
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-6123

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Patrick Hughes
b. 1939 | British


Oil on panel
Signed, titled and dated “Florentine / Patrick Hughes / 2022” (en verso)

“I believe they have an experience, unlike any other, in which they see the impossible happen. And I hope that they then think a bit about why that is. If lookers and seers experience the paradoxical and reciprocal relation between parts of the world and themselves, they get a sense of the flow of life.” - Patrick Hughes, 2014

Another success from the artist, Florentine displays a three-dimensional, illusionistic cityscape for which Patrick Hughes’s oeuvre has become renowned. Part painting, part sculpture and part optical illusion, this work by the London-based artist invites the viewer on a visual journey. The 3-dimensional construction breaks free from the wall and appears to shift as one moves in front of it. The artist’s experimentations with perspective and perception involve the viewer in a highly tangible way that is rarely seen in fine art. Driven by ideas of engagement, originality and humor, Hughes is one of the leading figures in contemporary British art.

In Florentine, the semi-aqueous landscape of the city creates a somewhat surreal scene, heightened by Hughes’s illusionistic perspective, with the waters of Florence lapping up on the sidewalks of the city streets. Hughes has captured the beloved landmark of the Ponte Vecchio pedestrian bridge in the background, an everlasting symbol of Florence that grounds the composition in reality.

Hughes coined the term reverspective for these types of constructions, which he describes as “perspective in reverse.” He utilizes the traditional idea of one point perspective in which an artist can create the illusion of receding space and dimensionality with converging lines upon a single vanishing point on the horizon line. However, he reverses this concept by bringing these lines forward into space using 3-dimensional planes, but still abides by a strict vanishing point. Hughes says, “When the principles of perspective are reversed, the mind is deceived into believing that a static painting can move of its own accord.”

The panel’s construction is a proprietary technique developed by the artist. Starting from large panels of wood, the artist forms trapezoids and triangles that are then glued together to form 3-dimensional shapes that jut out from the flat plane of the wall. Then, 2-dimensional images are manipulated in photoshop and given the proper perspective for their placement within the composition. These images are translated precisely onto the panels in oil paint, creating the illusion. Perfection of line, light and shadow are essential to the final outcome, and, all told, a reverspective painting can take up to three months from start to finish.

Hughes created his first reverse perspective work in 1964 with a life-sized room for the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London entitled Sticking-Out Room, thus beginning his long fascination with perspective illusions. He has since then authored several books on themes in relationship with his art, including visual paradoxes and oxymorons, and he holds a doctorate in science from King’s College in London for his work in the psychology of perception. Today, his work resides in the permanent collection of the British Library and the British Academy in London.

Dated 2022

Panel: 18 1/2“ high x 51” wide
Frame: 26“ high x 58 1/8” wide x 7 1/2“ deep
Florentine by Patrick Hughes
Maker: Hughes, Patrick
Period: 1919-Present
Origin: England
Type: Paintings
Depth: 7.5 Inches
Width: 58.13 Inches
Height: 26.0 Inches
Canvas Width: 51 Inches
Canvas Height: 18.5 Inches
Florentine by Patrick Hughes
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