Critics’ Picks

Rowena Hughes, Possible Lines of Flight, 2011, screenprint on glass, two found book pages, 27 1/2  x 34”.

Rowena Hughes, Possible Lines of Flight, 2011, screenprint on glass, two found book pages, 27 1/2 x 34”.


Rowena Hughes

Galerie Renner Prinz
Margaretenstraße 9
January 25–March 10, 2012

Rowena Hughes’s work addresses the infinite possibilities of chance within sets of predefined parameters. Her current solo show, “From the Slopes of the Curves,” incorporates pages with photographs from 1950s-era textbooks on architecture and photography, which she employs for their translative potential from object, to image, and to reproduction into academic volumes. With an eye toward the material reality of the books themselves––the paper is perceivably worn and used––the London-based artist layers the pages with drawings and screen prints; these abstract, geometric forms appear in dialogue with the pre-existing elements in the found compositions. Staircase shows a Baroque architectural interior in which an overlaid Mobius strip both distorts and corresponds with the internal, perspectival logic of the book’s image, while superimposed lintels in Pillars Swaying (both works 2011) hint at a natural trabeation that connects a group of cypress trees.

Evoking the writings of Georges Perec and the Oulipo group, who disagreed with the Surrealists’ automatism, Hughes is concerned with indeterminate, creative permutations that are possible within a particular mathematical range. For example, in Flight & Infiniteness, 2009, continuous silhouettes of ascending fowl overlap with the cadenced typography of a dictionary page of words that begin with I. The numbered pages and worn edges conjure the physical and visual repetition of reading. Behind these metrical compositions lies the ever-present potentiality of the precarious: In Possible Lines of Flight, 2011, an unsecured pane of glass, balancing on nails jutting out from the wall, pins down a page showing a photograph of a Russian dancer suspended in air. Within the limitations that Hughes chooses to set her scenarios, entropy, creation, and transcendence are all viable outcomes.