He calls it “reverspective” (reversed perspective). In short, Hughes paints on a three-dimensional surface that is the OPPOSITE depth of the objects in the painting. In other words, what APPEARS to be the farthest thing away in a painting is actually the closest thing do you, and vice versa.
This is SO convincing that from photographs alone, you won’t even believe me, so I created some animated GIFs to prove it.
My favorite piece in the show is “A Study for Studiolo” (below). It’s based on one of my favorite rooms in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: an amazing wood-inlayed room from the 15th Century that is itself an incredible optical illusion in which flat walls look three-dimensional. Hughes, paying homage to the perspective players that came before him (over 500 years ago!), paints the cabinets in reverse perspective. See the whole AMAZING process of it’s creation in the video below from 9:28-14:48.
Check it out in person if you can. It’s even more unbelievable.
And seriously, be careful.
All images courtesy Flowers Gallery, New York. Animated GIFs photographed by David Behringer.