Mary Hughes’ solo show, “Sense and Essence,” opens in two weeks. The exhibition features Hughes’ latest abstract works that explore organic forms and how nature and cities converge. Hughes poignantly named these scenes “urban landscapes.” Using rich color and variegated lines, Mary Hughes’ artwork drips with imaginative style to represent a city’s natural world.
Urban Wild, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36”
As a Boston-based artist, Hughes took much of her inspiration for “Sense and Essence” from Boston’s own Back Bay Fens. Situated in the city, the Back Bay Fens park offered Hughes unlimited inspiration. She said, “I am there in all seasons and find myself drawn to the large, sweeping vistas as well as to the minutiae things like the surface of a frozen puddle or the texture and color of plant life.”
Effloresce, acrylic on wood, 16 x 16”
As each season turned anew, the same landscape concealed and then revealed new shapes and forms for Mary Hughes to discover. “The park is bare and bleak in the winter, all mud in March, plush and green in late spring into summer, then shifts into softer shades in autumn. All these contrasts, all these details inspire me to capture the memory or the sensation of the place,” said Hughes.
Spring Thaw I, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30”
Much of Hughes’ works depict various bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, and pools. Since each water scene features a multitude of colors, shapes, depths, botanical forms, and species, Hughes’ style is well-equipped to capture the ordered frenzy of such landscapes.
Celestial Pool, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36”
Along with exploring wildlife themes, Mary Hughes also investigates formal matters such as line, color, and composition. Hughes even credits “topographical lines, maps, calligraphy, underwater scenes and geometric forms” as inspiring her style and imagery. These lines, with their marvelous forms, are achieved by building them up with stencils and free-hand drawing.
Briar II, acrylic on canvas, 22 x 30”
After engaging in these themes for over a decade, Mary Hughes’ work speaks to the endless ways nature can inspire art, and gives us new perspectives on how we see the natural world.
Vernal Pool I, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48”
“Sense and Essence” is on view from September 7th – October 5th at the Copley Society and the Boston Private Bank in the Prudential Center. Mary Hughes will also give an artist talk about her exhibition on Saturday, September 9th.