Malcolm Hughes

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Malcom HughesMalcolm Hughes was born in 1920 in Manchester. He studied art in Manchester at the Regional College of Art and at the Royal College of Art. During his 30s he was influenced by British abstract artists, but by the early 1960s he began to develop his own Constructivist practice. This type of art first developed in Russia at the start of the twentieth century, and was to become a truly international art form over the following decades. It does not seek to represent what can be seen in the visual world, but to construct works from standard elements and rules. It is a rational art that offers both formal and surprisingly sensual results.

In 1969 Hughes co-founded the Systems Group with Jeffrey Steele. In keeping with other similarly minded artists, Hughes also worked as a teacher. He taught in a variety of establishments, including the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic of London, Bath Academy of Art and the Chelsea School of Art, where John Ernest and Anthony Hill were among his colleagues. From 1970 he taught at the Slade School of Art, running the Graduate School from 1973-83. He exhibited extensively (both at home and abroad), from his first Constructivist exhibition at the AIA Gallery in 1962 to his last show in 1996 at the Annely Juda Gallery and also more recent retrospective exhibitions. Along with the Systems group he was also involved with Arbeitskreis (a group of Constructivist artists from Europe which formed in 1972) and from 1984 to 1989 with a group of younger artists who took their name from the East End gallery 'Exhibiting Space'.

During the 1960s he produced reliefs using the natural colour of the materials being used and adding limited colour. During the 1960s and 1970s his methods of construction became increasingly formal; he used number systems to create the structure of the works. During this period he experimented with juxtaposing reliefs with monochrome and colour paintings. By the end of the 1980s the structures he used became simplified and relied increasingly on colour and its inherent properties, such as spectral order, complementarity and colour value.