Ronnie Hughes is one of Ireland’s most dynamic abstract painters. Hughes’ elegant and poised works are executed with complex technical skill yet retain a lightness of touch. While his finished paintings display a diversity of styles, at heart they share a common concern with the lived experience, and what Hughes has described as “the beauty, the fragility and the violence of being.”
"Over the past few years my paintings have taken a small number of elements and developed these over time until a larger and more complex entity, or ‘state’, has been formed: The works tend to evolve over a long time period and are generally process-driven to the extent that I don’t plan or, in most cases, have any sense of the outcome until the works get close to completion. My role is to steer and nuance their evolution; to balance the elements and, just as often, to disrupt them. During the working process the elements proliferate; they are transmuted, grown, developed, aggregated and extended. This typically results in the emergence of waves, nebulae, constellations, lattice structures and fields. In the larger universe what appears to be random or chaotic actually tends to contain a hidden template, structure or pattern. Conversely regimented order seems to be constantly gnawed at and undermined: That dialogue fascinates me and through the work I’m interested in exposing these unseen forces, the things that lie beneath appearance. The physical act of making a painting is for me act of discovery, a quest to extract a veiled or hidden reality. In recent years the work has become more ‘optically’ charged. Formally, I like to think of colour and shape as vibrational energies. I’m also very interested in the haptic qualities that a painting’s surface contains, as well as its ability to record, hold and contain time. If one looks closely it becomes apparent that I literally construct strata (i.e. existing at different depths) within the painted surface and there is a comparable attempt to foster a range of associative and representational qualities simultaneously. I try to make paintings that reward careful looking and that encourage contemplation."