Sara Hughes WorldWide Optimism

1 April –
15 May 2010

Sutton Gallery is pleased to announce WorldWide Optimism, an exhibition of recent work from Auckland-based artist Sara Hughes. This body of work comes from Hughes’ continual interest in social environs in the digital age and the endless flow of information, combined with her investigation of use of colour as an economic tool.

Hughes’ recent series investigates the language of diagrams and data graphics, creating works that oscillate between visual image and visual information. The artist has lifted the title, WorldWide Optimism, from a recent media headline declaring renewed buoyancy in the stock market. She draws upon this sentiment and combines it with brightly painted saturated surfaces, to make a political statement on the current economic situation; inviting the viewer to negotiate the space between the works’ subject matter and their vibrant mode of presentation.

In this exhibition, paintings, works on paper and installation are bound together through their desire to articulate social meaning by utilizing aspects of optics and semiology. Two large works reference 1930’s Depression era ‘Grandmother Flower Garden’ quilt pattern in their use of honeycomb structure, also doubling as a grid with embedded data. Rainbow striped canvases incorporate facts and figures from the recent MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence. Drawing attention to consumer perceptions of economic conditions, the numbers point towards increased optimism but the candy colours hint at an artificial reality as do two target paintings titled Bubble and Burst.

Hughes’ practice has attracted significant critical attention, winning both the Wallace Art Award and the Norsewear Art Award in 2005. In 2008 the artist was the first New Zealand recipient of the The RIPE: Art and Australia/ANZ Private Bank Contemporary Art Award. Her recent solo shows include For Kultur, Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery, Napier NZ, Feedback Runaway, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany and United we Fall, Christchurch City Art Gallery, Christchurch. Hughes’ paintings and installations are held in many important Australasian public and private collections including the Chartwell Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. A recent Monograph on the artist’s work will be launched at the opening (Feedback Runaway,Publisher: Revolver VVV, Berlin). HeatWave, an installation of umbrellas, is currently on view at Federation Square, Melbourne.

Artist’s profile