"I’m interested in a play on that idea that paintings are the windows to the world—like there’s a window and here’s a window and here’s a window—how far can you go, how far can I bring you in and then pull you back."
In Shara Hughes’s Remodeling (2008), angular furniture coexists with the clashing patterns of an eccentric rug lying across delicate, tiled floor. Uncanny, yet still accessible to the human eye, ambiguous form, texture and pattern vibrate off one another to create this peaceful interior shaken up by the renovations suggested by the painting’s title. Hughes's dexterous handling of pattern also plays into the ambiguity of the boundary between representation and abstraction—are the trees seen through a window or an open wall caused by remodeling? Are the exposed beams a result of construction or do they exist as décor? Do the sketchy patches of color on the right mimic the chaos caused by demolition? The carefully placed furniture resting in the foreground opposes the disarray occupying the background.
“I have always used this feeling of collage through different ways to use paint. Texture, pattern, and perspective is something I like to use to describe a space in ways that don’t always make sense…I’m into using materials in ways they aren’t normally used as well. Sometimes the crusty old paint is more valuable to me than the juicy smooth ones. It's more about how to know the range of your tools” (S. Hughes, quoted in “Shara Hughes,” Maake Magazine, 2019). Similar to Fauvist artists like Henri Matisse or André Derain, Hughes delineates forms through stretches of colors and transitions in tonality. Simultaneously, she builds structure in her compositions through the application of color using bold strokes. The artist’s frenetic, brushy, dry strokes coexist with juicy, thick, impasto dabs, emphasizing the materiality of the physical paint that covers her canvases. Hughes’s flattening of space through smooth, single-tone patches overlaid with airbrush-like gradients create spatial distortions that recall the interiors painted by David Hockney or Pierre Bonnard. The artist’s oeuvre makes clear references to some of the most canonized painters in art history, somehow finding a way to harmoniously blend artists from across the style spectrum into a single, perfectly chaotic rhythm.