Patrick held his first solo show in 1961 at the Portal Gallery, London. It was the first one-man show by a Pop Artist, though they were not even called that then. A few years later, Hughes made two seminal reverse perspective works, Infinity and Sticking-out Room. In the 1970s Hughes’ name became synonymous with rainbow paintings, which also became very popular as prints and as postcards; people enjoyed them as decoration, but for Hughes the rainbow represented a solid experience.
In the late 1980s Hughes revisited exploiting the difference between perspective and reverspective and solidifying space. For the last 25 years his 3-D reverspective paintings have been hughesually in demand, exhibited around the world and featured in many public collections. The experience of seeing a Patrick Hughes sculptured painting in reality is really to experience unreality and the paradox of illusory space and movement.
Patrick Hughes’s paintings and wall reliefs wittily address art history and the nature of perception and perspective. He invented an optical illusion called “reverspective,” a neologism for reverse perspective. Hughes begins by constructing pyramid- or wedge-shaped blocks out of wood, which he combines into ridged panoramas. He then paints scenes into the blocks, depicting interior spaces—including museum galleries hung with iconic artworks—as well as landscapes and city views. The protruding parts of the works appear to recede, and the receding parts appear to protrude. As viewers walk by the pieces, the compositions seem to move. Hughes once remarked: “In my reverspective, you have a contradictory and paradoxical experience. I wouldn’t think they’re beautiful. I think . . . they can be awe-inspiring.”