- Jack Mottram
- 2 October 2008
Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 4 Oct
Richard Hughes makes some of the most repulsive sculptures around, and some of the most attractive. His subject matter is the sort of abandoned tat that would make most folk wrinkle their noses in disgust.
Hughes lavishes attention on these unprepossessing objects, making uncannily realistic sculptures of them, memorialising the usually ignored in precise fibreglass or resin casts. There’s a sculpture of some scuffed, unfolded cardboard boxes, scorched by a discarded fag end, its tip still glowing. Across the room, a pair of trainers have gone to seed, rotting from within and sprouting tufts of grass. Up on the walls a sorry little collection of deflated balloons is tacked up, upside down, making it plain that they’re solid objects, made not found. This is unpleasant, grubby stuff, but it is impossible to resist being drawn to it, if only to work out how on earth Hughes manages to achieve this near-perfect realism.
Outside on Robertson Street, in a lot awaiting redevelopment, Hughes has installed a monumental sculpture in bronze of a tree that has grown through the burned-out back of a chair. Encountering perfect replicas of overlooked moments inside the gallery is one thing, but out here in its unnatural habitat, Hughes’ tree transforms its surroundings. It’s a cliché to say that good art changes the way we look at the world, but Hughes’ really does – after a visit to this show, litter chucked into front gardens, decrepit furniture left out for the bin men and newspapers dropped in the street become things to examine, not things to ignore.