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Manchester Evening News

Sarah Walters

 "Artists' different ways of seeing. Respective Perspectives."


Paul Critchley's painting 'Rauric 12'. Patrick Hughes with his painting 'Venice'

A first encounter with a painting by Escher, Magritte or Dali could well be the first time you have seen artists pervert the rules of perspective on canvas.

They are pioneers in their field, their contorted and often exquisitely detailed manipulation of perspective – or how we perceive things in terms of distance and volume – influencing many artists since.

Contemporary artists continue to explore the possibilities of perspective, and two of them have come together for a new exhibition at Wigan’s Drumcroon gallery to celebrate the centre’s 30th anniversary. A retrospective of the work by artists Patrick Hughes and Paul Critchley, who lives and works in the north west, Respective Perspectives shows a collection of recent and archived paintings by the two artists who both create very different optical illusions using the same perspective tools.

For Hughes, perspective is something to be turned on its head and inside out and his large-scale panoramas lead the viewer into Escher-like never-ending landscapes where foreground, background and scale are utterly disrupted into a confusing trompe l’oeil.

Critchley’s work differs in both scale and purpose. When he messes with perspective it is with the intention of exploiting what we think we know about the world with a deceptive version of familiar, homely scenes that bend our understanding of depth and the relationship between objects. Nowhere is this playful approach, or Critchley’s attention for detail, better illustrated than in Rauric 12, a star-shaped collage of Critchley’s apartment flattened out and thick with information and misinformation. Among the many delightful touches in the image is the depiction of the artist in his apartment studio painting the canvas we’ve looking at.

Some of his work borders on the sculptural. His paintings have a 3D effect, but Critchley also adds three dimensional objects to the 2D paintings to muddle the viewer’s reading further.

Anne-Marie Quinn, of Drumcroon, says: “These (details) trick or tempt the viewer to delve further into the painted trompe l’oeil space. At Drumcroon, young visitors are encouraged to see, to look and to look again,” she adds.