Shara Hughes - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Through her vibrantly assembled other worldly paintings, Shara Hughes creates order out of chaos. Growing up with three brothers in a loving but hectic household, meant that as a child Hughes would spend hours alone at play. The make-belief worlds she inhabited as a young girl are carried through into her artistic visual inventions.
    Untitled depicts one of Hughes’s marvellously constructed interior spaces. Hughes pulls together aspects from her imagination and art history. These references coalesce amidst a medley of patterns, shapes, stylised elements, textures, and colours, assaulting the viewers senses, yet presenting a united front.  A similarly diverse array of artistic techniques and mediums are implemented. Using brushes, palette knives and her fingers, the colours are freely applied onto the canvas: ‘by using my finger I can pick up something from underneath and mix it.’i Through her own unique working method, Hughes vividly forms her imaginary world. 
    'When I first started doing interiors—it always felt like the best resolution to everything for me. Within an interior, you can make a landscape through a window or you can make another person’s painting within the painting, or you can paint figures or not.'  
    —Shara Hughes
    The colours in Hughes’s paintings are unplanned: ‘it is always on the spot, it is never pre-mixed, I never have ideas before I come to the blank canvas.’ii This approach allows Hughes a freedom to create something not yet explored in her artistic repertoire. ‘I always try to do something that surprises me, that feels a bit weird but has to be there. To make a painting that is convincible but not necessarily right or true is my approach with the colour.’iii A red fabric-draped four poster bed forms the focal point to the present interior scene. The green, pink and yellow speckled carpet is partially covered in the foreground by a vibrant rainbow pattered rug. The wall behind the bed recall elements of a Klimt painting, offset by the tiles to the left of the room, on which hangs an oval portrait, reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  An Ivon Hitchen’s style painting peaks above an army camouflaged sofa to the far left of the composition.


    Frequently introduced into Hughes’s interior scenes are artworks by figures from the canon of art history. Hughes has cited this inclusion of art historical works as part of the quest to find her distinct style.
    'I remember in college I made a painting that looked exactly like a Joan Mitchell painting, because I really loved her. My professor said, “This is nice to look at, but what’s the difference? Besides . . . she did it, and she was way better.” And I realized why it’s so important to make my own work. I wanted to paint like everybody. Interiors became the foundation where I could lay all different artists who have come before me into and onto the painting. So I could paint a really detailed Renaissance painting inside of, on top of, a Bridgette Riley-esque type wallpaper thing. It opened up access for me to flow between everything I wanted to do, that I couldn’t do, because “that looks like this” or “that looks like that.”'  —Shara HughesThroughout Hughes’s works, she importantly leaves space for the viewer to use their own imagination: ‘When I make a painting that I feel is good, it is going to the edge but not describing everything.’ By keeping some of the answers hidden, the viewers complete understanding is left teetering on the edge, captivating the audience with a sense of intrigue.


    Shara Hughes Interview: Changing the Way We See, 2019

    i Shara Hughes, quoted in Rachel Reese, ‘Shara Hughes’, Bomb Magazine, 9 April 2013, online 
    ii Shara Hughes, in ‘Shara Hughes Interview: Changing the Way We See, 2019’, Youtube, online
    iii Shara Hughes, in ‘Shara Hughes Interview: Changing the Way We See, 2019’, Youtube, online

    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Provenance

      Parts Gallery, Toronto
      Private Collection
      Phillips, London, 7 December 2017
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner



signed and dated 'Shara Hughes SHARA HUGHES 2005' on the reverse
oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas
122 x 121.6 cm (48 x 47 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2005.

Full Cataloguing

£200,000 - 250,000 

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Simon Tovey

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+44 20 7318 4084

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 29 June 2022