Works in the exhibition
Artist Simon Hughes, known primarily for works on paper, opens his third exhibition at Division Gallery with a series of acrylic and mixed media paintings on linen canvas. In these works, the artist has omnivorously harvested imagery from the material world of mechanical reproduction, and weaves these images into mountainous landscapes using translucent glazes of saturated colour and a great deal of masking tape. The resultant paintings turn a critical eye on the history of landscape painting, and seek to illuminate the overlapping uses, agendas, and histories that a geographical feature such as a mountain may have accrued over its long existence.
The works continue the artist’s ongoing investigation of classic Surrealism, whose aim was to represent "pure thought"—the synthesis of conscious and unconscious ideas, where images could appear side by side no matter how incongruous they might be to one another. In Hughes’s work, these images (sculptural forms, human bodies, vehicles, etc.) suggest the random thoughts and memories that cycle through the mind at any given time: while the "subject" may be, on the surface, a mountain, each work is a repository of various ideas, desires, and dreams that simultaneously project the viewer into the past and the future. The works in this exhibition, as assembled imagery culled from old hardcover books and magazines, stand as a series of junk heaps: each one a glut of images, an onslaught of content from the mundane to the sublime, integrated by washes of colour that create an almost cinematic filter through which the works can be unpacked.
Simon Hughes’ work has been included in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Alberta Art Gallery, Confederation Centre for the Arts, La Maison Rouge (Paris), Plug In ICA and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He has received grants from the Manitoba and Winnipeg Arts Councils, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts. Hughes’ work is included in numerous prestigious collections, most notably the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, TD Bank, RBC, and the Bank of Montreal.