The first comprehensive monograph on this British artist, presenting over a decade of work.
A witty, dark and sensitive humour runs through Des Hughes’s work, delivered in a seemingly deadpan tone. His practice is an obsessive, physical enquiry into the traditions of sculpture, rethinking conventional sculptural methods and materials. Nothing is as it first appears; crudely modelled clay is meticulously cast in resin but, with the inclusion of marble dust, it could have been either carved and polished from a block of stone or fashioned from a piece of chewing gum. He collects, he dismembers, he puts things back together in fragments, or leaves pieces in an unfinished state – or just leaves them in pieces. He is a Surrealist de nos jours. At the same time, there is always a tender acknowledgment of the twentieth-century modernist canon of sculpture, and of the fragile heroism inherent in the handmade object. Alongside this sculptural work, textiles have also become a particularly potent aspect of his practice. While time-consuming, his embroidering looks spontaneous, like a hastily handwritten scrawl. His cross-stitch is self-taught and has a distinctly amateur and cartoonish appearance; raw edges and wonky lines of text give his own samplers a homespun quality.
In this compelling book, Hughes leads the reader through the passages of his creative mind, offering a commentary on his most significant works. Texts by Stephen Feeke, Harry Thorne and Bruce Haines respond to particular aspects of the practice. The result is the first comprehensive monograph on the quiet revolutionary at the heart of contemporary sculpture.