Shara Hughes (b. 1981, Atlanta) uses dizzying brushwork, vibrant colors, and shifting perspectives to make paintings that defy many of the existing conventions associated with the landscape genre. Natural motifs and patterned elements recur throughout Hughes’s pictures: snake-like trees, floating moons, distorted reflections in bodies of water, and stippled night skies appear in various permutations, synchronized with harder-to-define forms in which abstract and representational impulses co-exist in unorthodox harmony. Hughes’s process rarely involves reference images; instead, she transposes the psychological complexity of her interior world into lush and layered compositions. She often mixes pigment directly atop her surfaces, and in this way creates intuitive, one-of-a-kind color palettes that simultaneously point to art historical movements like color field painting and Post-Impressionism. As she engages with these open-ended experiments in image-making, Hughes depicts kaleidoscopic visions of flora and fauna in processes of constant evolution.
Shara Hughes is the subject of a solo exhibition at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark from May 4 through September 17, 2023. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2022); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland (2022); Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2021–2022); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2021); Garden Museum, London (2021); Aspen Museum of Art, Colorado (2021); and Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2021). Recent group exhibitions include Open Ended: SFMOMA’s Collection, 1900 to Now, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (ongoing); Being in the World: The Tenth Anniversary of the Long Museum, Long Museum, Shanghai (2023); Nature humaine – Humaine nature, Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, France (2022–2023); America Will BE! Surveying the Contemporary Landscape, Dallas Museum of Art (2019); and Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work is in the permanent collections of institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Denver Art Museum; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., among others. Hughes lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.