Sidney Nolan, Untitled, 1987, 152 x 152.5 cm, spray paint on canvas, © Sidney Nolan Trust
Des Hughes is a sculptor living on the Welsh border, he has a solo exhibition at Martin Asbeak Gallery, Copenhagen in October and a monograph, ‘One Hand Washes the Other’ published by Black Dog in spring 2018.
“This image is brutally honest both in its depiction of the harrowing subject matter and as a description of solid forms within a space. Like all these works in this series a portrait is suggested with economical restraint, a compromise between a wilful material and the demands of the painter, the canvas is never even touched but still allows direct link between hand and mark. The face shifts and contorts on the page, melting like wax. There is no doubt about the way a face has been modelled, but what is most surprising and sets this painting apart is the black grid sprayed on the right., which manages to cut in front, through and behind the figure. Despite its casual application, like graffiti or a crossing-out, sprayed in seconds, in a different universe to a painted line, it’s as heavy as a cast iron grate. The un-primed canvas lifts these two objects off the surface and into space. But somehow more convincing than the bust that seems to sit upon its plane, it is a net, a gate, a cage that you can reach out and touch.”