Shara Hughes is known for vibrant landscapes that combine a myriad of styles. At CAM she presents a selection of dreamscape paintings, conveying her intuitive approaches to the depiction of spaces within “invented landscapes.” She describes her process as “making a mess and then fixing it.” From an idiosyncratic pictorial logic, she creates “placeless” prairies, seascapes, woodlands, rock formations, caves, and valleys reminiscent of 19th-century Fauvism. Yet her subject is not the landscape, but more akin to 20th-century abstraction, in which the drama of mark-making compels the eye and mind. Her paintings are balanced by dichotomies that both compete and merge: beauty/ugliness, push/pull, escapism/engagement, hope/fear. Still, viewers can identify celestial bodies, bulbous trees, starlit skies, and placid lakes. Her flowers are both sensual and aggressive. Her paintings contain a psychological complexity that derives from her memories and observations, but are devoid of narrative. Hughes brings to life a world that is elegantly chaotic—infused with a vibrant harmony of the organic, the objective, and the surreal.
Shara Hughes is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator.