"In her new show, Shara Hughes, who is well known for her works on canvas, presents drawings and monoprint drawings on paper accompanied by two paintings. While focused on drawing, Hughes continues developing her concept of psychological or invented landscapes, which rather than depicting real landscapes, unfold her inner self and radiate moods, emotional states, as well as thoughts on painting. She works intuitively using expressive brushstrokes and vibrant colors; nonetheless, her work is informed by a knowledge of art history and traces of fin de siècle styles such as Fauvism, Art Nouveau, or German Expressionism appear in her oeuvre.
In contrast to how her paintings are made, Hughes' drawings were not made in the studio but rather at home in a more relaxed, private environment free from any expectations. In this tranquil setting, Hughes creates drawings using ink, watercolor, markers, crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, and paint pens. The nature of these materials do not allow for many changes once the color is applied, and each drawing is finished in one session. This direct technique, with its harsh lines in combination with the private atmosphere, allows the artist to delve even deeper into her practice, which radically draws from the inward. The show also comments on the pandemic in 2020, which has made planning impossible and necessitates a profound sense of the present; as the exhibition title implies, we must live Day By Day By Day.
The term monoprint drawing refers to a technique Hughes has developed, which consists of using the discarded sheets of former prints. In these prints, the artist removed most of the paint applied on the printing plate using a sheet of paper, thus creating a pale ghost of the motif made up of the diluted colors. This then served as the basis for the actual work, while the original, much more defined print constitutes the discarded remnants of the work. In her monoprint drawings, Hughes returns to these stark forms, which were initially used to create the ghost to serve as a subtle structure with colors that only can be produced in the printing process. Therefore, the monoprint drawings are neither a copy nor a different version of another print but rather a literal déjà-vu, a landscape one may have already seen before, or might be a mere effect of one's imagination.
Though they depict invented landscapes whose composition and style allude to art history, Hughes’ motifs emanate from moods or emotional states of self-reflection in the everyday—as is highlighted by the title. Other titles such as The Slightest Mistake 3 or Bright and Positive reflect upon states of mind most people are familiar with. Even drawings like Dried Up Riverbed or Erosion, which refer to geological formations, oscillate between utopian visions of landscapes and psychological allegory. In this context, Selfie seems like an almost ironic comment on how everyday actions are connected to the deeper self-image.
A comprehensive catalogue with an essay by Andrew Russeth will accompany the exhibition."
— Tillmann Severin, Press Release, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, 2020
"I often think about my drawings as a run-on sentence that never ends. I believe the drawings work as a release of my subconscious rather than fully forming something that has evolved and resolved itself. I think they open up questions rather than answering them and that's the kind of vulnerable edge I'm looking for."
— Shara Hughes
"Hughes plays out such possibilities in these works born from the same plate, generating climates and ecosystems anew each time. Her art foregrounds the exhilarating and frightening fact that everything would look very different if a few tiny things had played out in other ways."
— Andrew Russeth (Shara Hughes: Day by Day by Day, 2020)
"Water falls over menacing cliffs, lightning shoots down from thick clouds, and forests vibrate with manic energy. Unknowable forces reign. It’s a relief that no humans or animals inhabit these imaginary landscapes."
— Andrew Russeth (Shara Hughes: Day by Day by Day, 2020)
Shara Hughes was born in 1981 in Atlanta, GA, US, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, US. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and later attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Recent solo exhibitions include Pilar Corrias, London, UK (2020); The Arts Club, London, UK (2018); the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI, US (2018); Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, NY, US (2018); and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA, US (2014). In May 2018, Hughes completed Carving Out Fresh Options, a large-scale mural in Boston, MA, US, commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in partnership with the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues such as Dallas Art Museum, Dallas, TX, US; Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, US; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, US; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, US; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, US. Hughes was also included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, US. Hughes' work belongs to many prominent museum collections including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, US; the Denver Museum of Art, Denver, CO, US; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, FR; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, US; the Jorge M. Perez Collection, Miami, FL, US; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, US; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA, US; the M Woods Museum, Beijing, CN; the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, US; the Rachofsky Collection, Dallas, TX, US; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, US; the Si Shang Art Museum, Beijing, CN; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., US; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, US; and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai, CN.