Review: Kristy Hughes' Seeing Is Forgetting 

click to enlarge "They Raised Her Ugly" - KRISTY HUGHES
  • "They Raised Her Ugly"
  • Kristy Hughes

Kristy Hughes Seeing Is Forgetting

Gallery 924

Kristy Hughes was one of the 33 artists chosen by the Arts Council of Indianapolis to create a unique "Welcome Race Fans" work of art for the 100th  running of the Indy 500.  And in her particular contribution, on an otherwise abstract work, you see the logo "Welcome Race Fans." But if you take away the words, what remains is the swirling abstraction that you see in the compositions of Hughes' "Seeing Is Forgetting."   

 This series is informed by gestalt, which Hughes describes as "a theory of visual observation that studies our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world."

  So how does this theory square with the artwork? Let's start by looking at "They Raised Her Ugly," a composition that employs both collage and décollage as well as acrylic and spray paint.  But when you look past the unusual materials and techniques – the building up and the cutting away of layers of paint and paper with an X-acto knife – you start to see things. Certain images, among them perhaps a ghostly female form, arise amidst the swirling grays, blacks, and blues of the work. You get the sense here that, while the artist is trying to create order from the chaos that she unleashed, this chaos is not easily controlled.    

 If "After January," has a burnt look, the composition process itself is surely to blame here. It incorporates something called fumage, a technique employed by Salvador Dali which is basically painting with smoke.  (Other mediums used here were charcoal and colored pencil.) Composing this way leaves a lot to chance but maybe that's the point. The sense of three-dimensionality and the extreme contrasts of light and shadow are striking.

 If in viewing these compositions you can "forget the name of the things one sees," as French poet Paul Valery would have it – to see the works as a whole rather than a combination of its processes and techniques – you're in for a rich experience with this series. And although the elusive titles only add to the mysteries of the works, each piece speaks for itself — no text necessary.  Certainly this was a welcoming experience for this visual arts fan.

If you go
Gallery 924, 924 N. Pennsylvania St., through May 27

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