CURATOR: SARAH O'KANE           |             M. 07777 691 050           |              |             @StAnnesLewes

The Arcadia Tree
oil on canvas 23 x 30cm


The Tree Within
oil on canvas 23 x 30.5cm


Fiction Tree: The Matcham Version
oil on hessian 90 x 90cm


Angela's Ballerina Tree
oil on hessian 51 x 76cm


Nicholas' View
oil on canvas 23 x 30.5cm


Fable: The Tree of Mrs Muir
oil on hessian 90 x 90cm


Paul's Dream Landscape
oil on canvas 61 x 91.5cm


Conversation Piece: Roland and Oliver
oil on canvas 20.5 x 25.5cm


Boggy Meadow: The Tree Beside the Connecttcut
oil on canvas 58.5 x 84cm


Michael's Glass of Water
oil on canvas 25.5 x 30.5cm


The Sun of the Quince
oil on canvas 40.5 x 51cm

Christopher McHugh


7 May - 22 May 2016

view the catalogue here

'Tom Stoppard’s admonition from Squaring the Circle holds good: we should remember that everything is true except the words and the pictures. The paintings are not landscapes in the proper sense; they are not topographic and they do not abide by the conventional rules of depiction and perspective. Instead they talk to one another about this and that – their hopes and fears, their aches and pains, the state of the world and the content of their dreams….. and about their nature and their antecedents. They eschew facts in pursuit of a good gossip – why let the truth spoil a good story? In any case they know something about the greater secret; that art is the lie by which we reveal the truth.'   Christopher McHugh

Michael Szpakowski is an artist, composer and writer whose work has been performed/exhibited around the world. He recently published a meditation on a single painting by Christopher in Turps Banana [issue 15]. Below is his essay for Christopher McHugh's solo exhibition Arcadia:

Beauty has had a chequered history in recent discourse about art. For a long time it was definitely out, then, for a little while, a word not even to be whispered. Recently it has made a cautious return, but tamed, corralled, explained and contextualised by the theory gatekeepers. Safe.

I want to say: these works of Christopher McHugh are dangerously beautiful. I look at them and I feel—yes I do¬—a lump in my throat. I feel actually, not metaphorically, as if something trembles in the region of my heart. My mind, too, races away. I know, also, that I will always remember the nature, the shape of this experience of looking. I am marked, changed.

And then I want to say—the feeling these paintings give me is something I have in common with other human beings—it’s the same thing that happens to people when they look at a favoured and finely worked ornament, an overworked photo of a sunset, or when I tenderly recall a favourite illustration from a children’s book I once loved. We have to trust ordinary language this far. And that feeling, it seems to me, stems from how we are all embodied in the world and how, when we look at something beautiful, it affirms for us, enables us to consider and to celebrate, the joy of that embodiment, pulse and sight and breath and touch, that feeling of at-homeness and delight we’re sometimes privileged to feel.

But there is more. I want to insist that what McHugh has made here is better by far, more worthy of our sustained attention, than ornament, sunset photo or book illustration and this difference is to do with labour, common to all these things for sure, but here a particularly intense and all-consuming labour of looking, thinking, feeling and making, self-imposed and unforgiving and which demands that one return, return and return again to either single work or series until the voice inside (and that voice only) says now it is OK to step away and stop.

World-transforming labour, delight in that world, key elements of being human, distilled and gifted to us, here and now, in these magnificent works, in these pigments suspended in oil and pushed around on cloth.

Take good time to look at them, to be marked and to be changed by them.

Michael Szpakowski 11th March 2016.