A young Aberdeen artist is gearing up for his first solo show, after returning to Gray’s School of Art as this year’s Painting Graduate in Residence.
Mike Hughes (27), who graduated from Gray’s with a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art (Painting) in 2012, will unveil his show entitled ‘In The Future’ on February 16.
Consisting of completely new abstract paintings, Mike feels he has broken new ground with his work, while also shedding more light on his initial studies.
He said: “The work in places feels like it takes some cues from optical art whilst retaining some nostalgia of paintings from the ‘80s. I’ve created some promotional videos, which are inspired by “so bad they’re good” movies from that era, to throw a bit of a curve ball to get people curious. I like having fun with something which wants to be more epic or dramatic than it actually is.”
The graduate in residence scheme at Gray’s provides support to a recent graduate in the early stages of their career by providing them with a studio space and access to other resources such as workshops and IT facilities while assisting with a range of undergraduate activities.
Mike, who is the fourth person to undertake the role, said: “It's been a great experience and it's provided me with a much needed change of scene. It's great to make work in amongst the students. I get to see that energy around me and it rubs off on the work. It's interesting how subtle changes in your routine affect things.”
Part of the Real Nice Collective, a group of freelance artists who aim to make Art and Design accessible to a wider and more inclusive audience. Mike is also a talented illustrator and has been kept busy since graduating with numerous group exhibitions as well as working with a variety of companies such as Brewdog and Bos’n to produce graphics, interior installation and editorial illustration.
He said: “I've always been somebody that splits my time between as many different disciplines as the day will allow. Illustration and Painting provide different challenges for me personally and I love them both.
“The gestural, more instinct driven side of painting is a time stopping experience. Everything I do in that space is without boundaries in a sense. With illustration it satisfies working technically within a brief. It's almost mathematical in that there are elegant solutions which I'm looking for. Something which makes it ‘work’. I also like that with illustration I can see an idea from start to finish in a day. Painting is a longer burn.”
Looking ahead to the opening of the show, Mike says he is both nervous and excited to present his work.
“It's quite an undertaking and oddly I didn't really realise this would be my first solo show until recently,” he said. “The main difference is that I have more control. It feels like much more than just Painting, I'm crafting a whole experience.
“I'm going to be Painting a large scale installation which will be a first, as far as I know, for the exhibition space in Gray’s. I really want people to feel a whole range of emotions when they go round the space. Like a movie, it is about lighter and more serious moments all composed together.”
Keith Grant, painting course leader at Gray’s, said: “Mike’s student work, and particularly his Degree Show, straddled the dividing line between fine art and graphic design. This exploration of the tension between the Expressive and the Graphic has always been one of his real strengths.
“The work that he has produced for this, the fourth Painting Graduate in Residence exhibition, has taken that relationship to a new level and I hope that people enjoy this exciting new body of work.”
‘In the Future’ will be on display in the ground and first floor foyer areas in Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Garthdee Road from February 16 to 22.
Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology