Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Veneer; an exhibition of new and recent works by Sara Hughes that centers on the complex entanglement of colour in everyday life, specifically in relation to its translation across digital platforms and strategic use within economic structures.
Colour is a key interest for Hughes and is continually used to maximum effect in her practice as a way to evaluate relationships between the emotional and the rational, the scientific and the magical: ‘There is something very elusive about colour. It has the physical possibility to make your heart beat faster and to seduce the eye and it has the ability to manipulate, insult and inspire national uprising, and sometimes it can combine all these factors simultaneously’. i
For Veneer, Hughes presents three distinct, but interrelated bodies of work which playfully express bold colours in abstract and figurative forms. Her acrylic on linen paintings are drawn from her ‘Colour Codes’ series, taking shape as loosely-structured bar graphs, these works act as an investigation into how financial institutions create an interface of image and information via their use of colour on online platforms. Having identified the largest commercial bank in every country in the world (based on assets), and working with a customised computer program that allows her to accurately analyse the proportion of colour data on web pages, Hughes proportionally paints the ten most predominant colours found on each of these banks’ websites.
Presented alongside ‘Colour Codes’ in the main gallery is a series of works that look to global wheat production as a metaphor for the politics and economic issues that affect the way food is grown and globally traded. The Golden Grain and Harvest 1, 2, are stunning large-scale grid works that depict strands of wheat created with stainless steel pins which have each been delicately dipped in many layers of brightly coloured paint; while another large installation is comprised of over thirty multicoloured pie charts that contain statistics relating to wheat — its production, its consumption and the economics and the political aspects of the subsidies, tariffs and embargos by which it is affected.
Sara Hughes’ practice has attracted significant attention throughout Australasia, winning both the Wallace Art Award and the Norsewear Art Award in 2005, whilst in 2008 she was the first New Zealand recipient of The RIPE: Art and Australia magazine Art Award. She has been selected to participate in a number of notable residencies including the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, in 2007; and Creative New Zealand’s Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien between 2008 and 2009. Hughes’ paintings and installations are held in many important Australasian public and private collections, including the Chartwell Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery Toi o TÄmaki; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the University of Auckland Art Collection. Hughes has also undertaken a number of high profile public commissions, including a temporary installation entitled Heat Wave at Federation Square, Melbourne, in 2010. In 2013 she completed a number of large-scale permanent works for the ANZ lobby in Auckland, as well a series of striking outdoor works for the re-opening of Cathedral Square in the centre of Christchurch. Selected exhibitions include: Perception: Colour/Line/Pattern, Arvada Centre, Colorado, 2013; Flight, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany, 2012; Peaking the Edge, Plus Gallery, Colorado, 2011; The Golden Grain, Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 2011; Feedback Runaway, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany, 2009; United we Fall, Christchurch City Art Gallery, 2008; and Wish you were here, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2005.
i. Sara Hughes, 9/10/2013.Artist’s profile