Twisted Figures

72 x 60, acrylic on canvas
Untitled (Golden Yellow) Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 inches

Ian Hughes
October 9 – November 8, 2014

Over the arc of his career, Ian Hughes has honed a distinctive visual language in which paint reveals its lushest and most viscous qualities while simultaneously giving shape to bio-reminiscent forms that have a compelling life of their own. In Twisted Figures, his third solo show at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, Hughes’s latest series of acrylic paintings pushes this language into a new phase in which the shapes on the canvases continue to self-confidently assert their own presence, yet begin to move beyond an earlier, more matter-of-fact reliance on organic and visceral associations.

Twisted Figures reflects a subtle turn in Hughes’s paintings toward motifs that are slightly more elusive in content, while retaining the beautiful but vaguely stomach-churning core of his earlier works. Many of the latest pieces feature the same intense, warm palette and pseudo-anatomical imagery set against flat monochromatic backgrounds, such as Green Ovals, which presents a smooth fleshlike surface against which brightly rendered rolling forms in pink, white, and orange suggest intestines, buttocks, and/or reproductive organs. Yet patches of textile-like patterning and a handful of amorphous shapes scattered throughout hint at a much wider range of associations, from soft pillows to eerie but strangely inviting otherworldly landscapes.

In some of the new paintings, Hughes sets up a tension between more organic, down-to-earth colors—such as the duller hamburger/flesh pink in Untitled (Taupe) —and contorted masses that are much harder to pin down. Still other canvases veer in the opposite direction by merging undulations of vivid, carnivalesque blues, pinks, oranges, or greens with somber dark swathes into curves that evoke chaotic balloon sculptures or failed attempts to wring order from unruly sausages of brute matter. In Untitled (Golden Yellow) and Red Wrap, the brushstrokes begin to assert themselves in a way that seems to subtly threaten the integrity of the forms they comprise, thereby highlighting the importance of paint as the essential substrate for Hughes’s cheerful-yet-disquieting images. The juxtaposition of painterly effects (rounded forms and illusionistic volumes) with more graphic elements (flat, opaque backgrounds and sharp edges) strongly reinforces this message. The result is a potent comment on the powerful tension between medium and image that has haunted painting for as long as abstraction has existed, or perhaps since the first images were daubed on a cave wall millennia ago.

For further information, please contact 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel by phone at 1.917.701.3338, or by e-mail at


Categories: Exhibitions Past


Untitled 2012

IAN HUGHES  Solo presentation at the first Edition of UNTITLED , Miami
curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud.













Categories: Art Fairs


Ian Hughes – Solo Show



APRIL 26 – MAY 26, 2012

Gallery 532 Thomas Jaeckel is pleased to present the paintings of Ian Hughes in his second one-man show at the gallery.
In this new body of work, Hughes brings to full fruition the investigation of color, space, and form that has been underway for nearly two decades. The new paintings continue to probe an artistic vein that runs from the eye to the brain and terminates in the viscera. The color field is repurposed as a visual staging area upon which organic forms, vascular and sinuous, shape-shift and commingle. The luminous color space of the background is simultaneously flat and volumetric, like a cloudless sky; it is a resolutely abstract space that asserts the two dimensional nature of painting and creates a dynamic contrast to the illusion of volume in the foreground.

In two related works, Yellow Curtain and Strands (Pink Curtain), the background color acts like a light box, illuminating the transparent forms from behind, analogous to an x-ray image. The reference to curtains has multiple meanings, most literally to the vertical strands hanging from the top and arranged across the picture plane like a beaded curtain (though admittedly, maybe more like flayed meat hanging on a drying rack.) But the transparency of the forms also suggests a diaphanous veil through which the viewer must pass to reach the other side, where lies another world–the world of metaphor and myth. Art historical references also abound, perhaps most poignantly to Morris Louis, whose name Hughes readily invokes as a source of inspiration.

Hughes’ technique is deceptively straightforward. Water is the medium; pigment dispersions and acrylic polymer yield color and form. Together they are poured, floated, and brushed onto the prepared surface; the dance between intent and accident, consciousness and unconsciousness, is set into motion. For Hughes, technique is purely a means to an end. Most important is the degree to which the technique serves the desire to create a state of visual and interpretive flux.

In this endeavor, Hughes aligns himself squarely within the tradition of painters like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, whose groundbreaking ideas gave rise to a main branch of contemporary American abstraction which espouses the possibility of conveying the full range of human experience through the raw materials of paint and renders moot the distinction between abstraction and figuration.

Please contact the gallery for further information.

Categories: Exhibitions Past


Ian Hughes


Ian Hughes


Ian Hughes – Works available on Artsy (link)


Ian Hughes’ paintings probe an artistic vein in which naturalistic forms shape-shift on top of a flat color-space.  He explores the psychological and emotional link between the brain and the viscera, forming a kind of connective tissue with the viewer.  Fluid, intertwining, and semi-transparent forms exude a bodily presence while suggesting a tangle of shifting associations. Hughes seduces with sensuous textures and a luscious palette of chromatic pinks, yellows and turquoise blues modulated by pearl whites and carbon blacks.  For Hughes, the color field is a stage on which to choreograph a visual and psychological drama.

Hughes’ work has appeared in numerous group shows in New York City, including featured exhibitions at The Drawing Center (Selections 31) and a White Room exhibit at White Columns (1991) curated by Bill Arning. In 1998, Artists’ Space featured three large Hughes paintings in an exhibition celebrating its 25th Anniversary and curated by Irving Sandler, Founder, and Claudia Gould, Director. Hughes received his B.A. in 1981 from Yale College, where he also attended the Yale Summer School of Art at Norfolk, CT, and his MFA in 1984 from Columbia University School of Art.  He was selected for a solo booth in the 2012 inaugural edition of UNTITLED: Miami, curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud.  Hughes lives and works in New York City.

1986 M.F.A., Columbia University School of the Arts,
Division of Painting and Sculpture, New York, NY
1981 B.A., Yale University, New Haven, CT
1980 Yale Summer School of Art at Norfolk, Norfolk, CT
Ellen Stoeckel Battel Fellowship Recipient


2016 Paint Heads, curated by Charles Marburg, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, LIC, NY

2015 Context Art Miami, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2014 Context Art Miami, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2014 Ian Hughes Paintings 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel New York, NY
2013 Ten Artists Adelson Galleries Boston, MA
2012 Untitled Art Fair, South Beach, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (S)
2012 Context Art Miami, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2012 Ian Hughes Paintings, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (S)
2012 Art Wynwood, Miami,  532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2011 Aqua Art Miami, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2010 Inside Out, Ian Hughes Paintings, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (S)
2010 Aqua, Miami,532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York (G)
2009 Paper in the Wind, curated by David Gibson, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel , New York, NY (G)
2003 New Works on Paper, Victoria Munroe Fine Art, Boston, MA
2002 25th Anniversary Exhibition, The Drawing Center, New York, NY
Watercolor: In the Abstract, conceived by Melissa Meyers, curated by Pamela Auchincloss and Alex Muse
2002 Michael C Rockefeller Arts Center Gallery, SUNY College, Fredonia, NY (G)
2002 Butler Institute of America, Youngstown, OH (G)
2002 Ben Shahn Gallery, William Patterson University, Wayne, NJ (G)
2002 Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL (G)
2001 Hyde Collection Art Museum, Glens Falls, N.Y. (G)
Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, NY
1999 Surfing the Surface, DFN Gallery, New York, NY
1998 Abstraction in Process, Artists Space, New York, NY; (G)
curated by Irving Sandler and Claudia Gould
1991 White Room: Paintings, White Columns Gallery, New York, NY
1991, White Columns Gallery, New York, NY
1990 Hall Walls, Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY
1989 Climate ‘89, Condeso/Lawler Gallery, New York, NY
1988 Drawings, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
1985 Selections 31, The Drawing Center, New York, NY

1996 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Recipient for Painting

New American Paintings, Open Studios Press, Boston, MA. March, 2005
Rose, Barbara. “Watercolor: In the Abstract.” Exhibition catalogue essay, September 2001 (color illustration)
Everett, Deborah. “Double Vision: Studio Visit with Ian Hughes.” NY Arts, September 1999, p54. (reproduction)
Johnson, Ken. “Abstraction in Process II.” The New York Times, February 6, 1998, p. E36.
Atamian, Christopher. “Abstraction in Process II.” Review, February 15, 1998.
Gibson, David. “Abstraction in Process II.” NY Arts, March-April 1998, p.17 (reproduction)
Arning, Bill. Update 1991. (exhibition catalogue) Fall, 1991.
Chaet, Bernard. The Art of Drawing (Third Edition). Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1983, (reproductions)







Categories: Artists


Inside Out


Ian Hughes

May 10 – June 7, 2010

532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel is pleased to present INSIDE OUT an exhibition of paintings by Ian Hughes, an outstanding mid-career painter, in his first one-person show in a New York gallery. Hughes’ paintings (here represented by large, medium and small scale works) re-examine and renew the always delicate relationship between color and form. Hughes’ forms are strangely suggestive, but of what exactly: primordial ooze, cell division run amok, fragments of the cosmos, a frozen oil spill, decay or growth, plant, animal, or human?  As the painted forms shift and mutate, so do the associations. Everything is in flux. A form is related, via color shifts, to an adjacent form, which itself is related to another, then another. This set of internal relationships causes the viewer’s eye to move about the canvas, picking out new ideas. Each interior form in a Hughes canvas can activate a different memory. Taken together, they can create a new universe of ideas for the viewer.

Categories: Exhibitions Past