Populated with vibrant colour and shifting perspectives, Sarah Hughes' invented landscapes, often painted in oil and acrylic, reimagine traditional landscape painting, transporting the viewer to a mystical, dream-like world.Read More
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Hughes received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004. After two artist residencies in Denmark through Mikael Anderson Gallery in 2008 and 2009, Hughes went on to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Today, Hughes lives and works in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend, artist Austin Eddy.
In her early career, Hughes predominately painted interior scenes with narratives sourced from her personal life, producing works such as Sailing (2006), Home Theater (2007), and Three's a Crowd (2008). On this early subject, she explained, '[interiors] always felt like the best resolution to everything for me. Within an interior, you can make a landscape through a window or you can make another person's painting within the painting, or you can paint figures or not.'
Moving to New York in 2014, Hughes began painting landscapes of undulating hills, serpentine rivers, ominous trees, and magical shorelines. Characterised by a bold colour palette, Hughes' fairy-tale narratives employ spontaneous mark-making and playful textures and perspectives, recalling the fantastical landscapes and pictorial innovations of David Hockney and Edvard Munch.
Self-reflection is paramount in the construction of Hughes' otherworldly landscapes. Speaking with Ocula Advisory on Soft and Strong (2021), a new work included in her 2021 solo exhibition at Garden Museum, London, Hughes explained, 'all of the paintings I make are self-portraits in one way or another, whether it's very specific of very abstract... [Soft and Strong] feels like a self-portrait. While making it, I was going through something hard and I felt very delicate, yet at the same time, forcing myself through an issue made me feel strong.'
A range of materials and techniques such as oil, fabric dye, brushes, and trowels manifest into the tactile and seductive scenes of Hard Hats (2021), Centering and Strengthening (2021), and Sigh (2021).
As a young female painter, Hughes' distinctive visual practice and history of widely-acclaimed exhibitions has placed her at the forefront of the international contemporary art scene, with her works continuously outperforming at auction. High Waters (2016), a large-scale oil and acrylic painting on canvas, far exceeded its highest estimate of $154,000 USD at the 2020 Christie's 20th Century Sale in Hong Kong. The painting sold for just over $500,000 USD, marking a new record for the artist.
Hughes' works has been collected by prominent museums and public institutions worldwide, including Dallas Museum of Art; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; M Woods Museum, Beijing; Whitney Museum of Art, New York; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, among others.
Solo exhibitions include On Edge (2021) at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Hughes will also hold solo exhibitions at Yuz Museum, Shanghai in November 2021 and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland in 2022.
Shara Hughes' solo exhibitions include Pivot, Le Consortium, Dijon (2021); Return of Light, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich (2021); Unmanageable, Pilar Corrias, London (2020); In Lieu of Flowers, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York (2019); Don't Hold Your Breath, Galerie Eva Presenbuber, Zurich (2018); Shara Hughes: Big Intimates, Ornis A. Gallery, Amsterdam (2016); Trips I've Never Been On, Marlborough Gallery, New York (2016); and Midnight Snacks, Institute 193, Lexington (2014).
Shara Hughes' recent group exhibitions include Lois Dodd and Shara Hughes, Parts & Labour Beacon, New York (2020); She is Here, Atlanta Contemporary (2020); America Will Be! Surveying the Contemporary Landscape, Dallas (2019); SEED, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2018); Cliché, Almine Rech Gallery, New York (2018); [If Only Bella Abzurg Were Here], Marc Straus Gallery, New York (2016); Sprawl, High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2015); and Bathers, Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York (2013).
Hughes' work has also been featured in international art fairs, and was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
Annabel Downes | Ocula | 2021