Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present Nicholas Hughes: Nowhere Far, opening Thursday, May 28, from 6 - 8 PM at 41 East 57th Street, Suite 704. This is the first show in the United States of Nicholas Hughes’ most recent body of work, “Aspects of Cosmological Indifference,” and his second solo show at Nailya Alexander Gallery. Gallery hours are 11 AM – 6 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment.
Nicholas Hughes was born in Liverpool in 1963 and studied photography at the London College of Communication. From an early age, he was a passionate environmentalist. Inspired by thoughtful, socially conscious writers like Thoreau and Seamus Heaney, and deeply influenced by the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on nearby North Wales, Hughes dedicated himself to the task of addressing humanity’s increasingly problematic relationship with nature — while avoiding the pitfalls of polemical and topical documentation in a world already supersaturated with images of destruction and decay.
“For Hughes, finding unspoilt areas of wilderness untouched by human presence proved nearly impossible,” writes Martin Barnes, senior curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. “Only the sky or the ocean offered the edge of human interference and, with it, a metaphorical rather than an actual space.” The result is “Aspects of Cosmological Indifference,” the first verse of which, as Barnes observes, combines the ethereal with the ecological, and the earthly with the epic. The vast distances between human and cosmos are collapsed, and in the inertness of space, light and color come alive, producing a series of celestial portraits in which the same sky shows a different face each time. “The images are desolate, almost bleak, but there seems to be a calm about them,” Sarah Nardi writes of Hughes’ early work. “They seem to reassure us that the existence of life or the lack thereof is inconsequential to the universe.”
Hughes’ theoretical concerns are borne out in his artistic process, which marries the analog to the digital as deftly as it does the physical to the atmospheric. Shot on color film and printed by hand in a traditional color darkroom after select digital adjustments, Hughes’ meditations on the threat of ecological destruction simultaneously pay homage to a set of endangered photographic skills and resources. In each rich, vivid print, the light that animates the sky seems diffused in the image itself.
Hughes’ work has been shown in over sixty group and solo exhibitions worldwide, as well as at the world’s major photographic art fairs in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York. His photographs can be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Gana Art Center, Seoul, South Korea; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, which selected his work to appear in a travelling exhibition in India in 2010. His first limited-edition book, “Aspects of Cosmological Indifference,” was published in 2013. This summer, his work will be featured in the Harvard University Press publication Photography and the Art of Chance, by Robin Kelsey.
Nicholas Hughes is based in the United Kingdom. He is represented in London by The Photographers’ Gallery.