Magazine article Art Monthly

Richard Hughes: Where It All Happened Once

Magazine article Art Monthly

Richard Hughes: Where It All Happened Once

Article excerpt

Tramway Glasgow 26 October to 16 December

The main exhibition space at Tramway in Glasgow is not a pristine white cube. Its high vaulted wood-and-glass ceiling is supported by girders and numerous pillars. The concrete floor is still crossed by the tram tracks that give the venue its name, and for Richard Hughes's solo show, 'Where It All Happened Once', it is not always easy to tell what the artist has added and what is a permanent part of this ex-industrial space.

This is an enchanted urban wasteland. Rusting drainpipes run down the inside walls, lampposts and benches stand on the floor and cardboard boxes are abandoned against walls. A building is wedged strangely in the middle of the gallery, half stuck in the air, only one wall touching the ground. It turns out to be a community centre, seemingly propped up by a sodden sofa cushion, which is sprouting pale green fungus. Incongruous though it is, it is somehow in keeping with the architecture of the space; pillars are used as supports for works and the browns and greys of Tramway's floor and ceiling are mirrored in the installation.

It is a timely exhibition for Hughes, whose last solo presentation in the UK was in Tate Britain's Sculpture Court in 2006, the year he was also nominated for Beck's Futures. Represented by Glasgow's The Modern Institute, he has since shown in the city in solo and group shows, and has had solo exhibitions in Europe and the US. This is his biggest and most ambitious exhibition in a UK public gallery to date, and Tramway proves to be a good foil for Hughes's wry sculptural installations.

The community centre is a work grimly entitled Community Fun Day, 2012. It is a meticulous recreation of an existing centre: the lower brickwork harbours a greenish mould, there are occasional dribbles of guano on the wooden panelling and a small, faded graffiti tag near the entrance. All the windows are boarded or bricked up and the grubby doors are firmly closed. Although the building hangs mysteriously half in the air and the exterior lights are on, it is not an alluring prospect. It is as uninviting as a community fun day. I might just hang around outside instead.

Behind the centre the mangled remains of a bicycle are strung up high on a pillar, its eviscerated chain and gears swinging below. …

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