February 15, 2010 by: Dom
FEBRUARY 25TH • MARCH 27TH, 2010
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Layers, an exhibition of recent paintings by the Ghanaian-born artist George Afedzi Hughes. This will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery. The reception is Thursday, February 25th, 6-8pm and the artist will be present.
“Art may not stop violence, but present philosophic examples of human activity as creative alternatives” is one important credo of George Afedzi Hughes. Connected in several ways with former works, the core topic of his Layers series is the ubiquity of violence—in societies, in ecologies and in man as part of nature. Hughes is focusing on the inevitability to escape violence and its related emotional dynamics—and the basic necessity to try it over and over again. His new works are tending to the layers that superimpose blocked-out aspects everywhere in the world. He is bringing up widely tabooed matters nevertheless lurking behind the surface concerning personal experiences as well as historical phenomena like colonialism, current socio-political developments and present-day global conflicts. In short: his work is thematically dominated by visual reminders of the savage side of man and human societies.
In his artistic visions Hughes is creating oppressive and disturbing worlds, exposing suppressed realities and the irrational and frightful side of daily routines and of the seemingly rational and normal. His pictures are troubling and not easy to interpret: everywhere we see confusing images associated with decadence, things associated with violence such as severed limbs of humans and animals, and unexpected and distressing juxtapositions of body parts or skeletons with man-made objects such as guns, bullets, sabers, tanks or commercial signs. For the artist, “the use of violent narratives in painting…is a civil necessity if the objective is to speak against the negative effects of violence.” In his paintings, Hughes plays with expectations and surprise and challenges familiar patterns of perception and interpretation. He breaks with accustomed ways of seeing things and shakes up expectations by presenting seemingly unrelated objects. Hughes is demonstrating the perish-ability of nature as well as of man and his moral values and qualities: sports, religion, culture and affection to play—everything is for sale, degraded to a commodity and ruled by money and violence.
Born 1962 in Sekondi (Ghana) and after moving to the US in 1994, Hughes obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Painting/ Drawing Minor from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in 2001. Since 2006 he is Assistant Professor of Painting at the Visual Studies Department of the University at Buffalo, New York. Painting is an integral part of his creative oeuvre but his artistic activities also include poetry, assemblage and performances. The “layered aspects” of his new series are reflected in the use of materials applied to the canvas in several layers.
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