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Kieren Hughes in Conversation with SEEN

Kieren, your work seems to belong to a troubled present and the collective unconscious. Is this deliberate?

Yes, because I believe the troubled present and the collective unconscious feed off one another more than society likes to make out. The 21st century’s digital boom, or the cyber realm, has, in a sense, created a new, collective unconscious that is defined by millions of videos and people’s opinions being uploaded practically every minute – the outcome of which is not leaving with us any semblance of truth at all, but instead just complete mass confusion. This confusion then, like the iconographic landscape of regular capitalism before it, then informs, distorts and creates our outlook on our present reality. Now we live in a world in which Instagram or YouTube hits can help win an election and henceforth we’ve entered the absurd world of Donald Trump.
The scariest part is that both the troubled present and the unconscious have only two places to go; either a wider spiral into more confusion or towards the totalitarian prospect of putting it under some form of control.

You’re an artist and a filmmaker, do these two strands of your practice feed into one another?

Yes, as a matter of fact my painting “The Three Men who rule the World” is an image inspired from an unmade science fiction screenplay. The film itself would require an insane budget and would therefore be unlikely to get backing but rather than let my dream projects die at the script stage, I thought that I could bring them to a visual dimension through paintings that could tell the story, or convey similar ideas. The idea of an artistic piece traversing different mediums is something that I was always surprised didn’t happen more often; Pink Floyd’s The Wall existing as both an album and a film is the only real example I can think of for this. Maybe painting should have a go? The possibilities could be endless…

Who are your influences artistically?

It’s weird but I find that art seems to inform a lot of my (written/narrative) film work and film/literature or music seem to inform my painting, however I’ve always been fascinated by the more classical movements of symbolism and impressionism. I’ve always had a lot of admiration for paintings that could say a great deal in a single image and do so in such an aesthetically beautiful way.

Given that much of your work embodies anxiety, are they therapeutic to paint?

Yes, painting is very therapeutic for me. The fact that it’s a low cost hobby that doesn’t necessarily have to involve technology to get to where you’re going is practically the cure for anxiety.

Which is your favourite art gallery in London?

The Tate Britain is the best for me generally, although some of the video art I saw at a place called The Infinity Mix somewhere near The Strand last year has stayed in my mind ever since. I think the Virtual Reality ones also have the potential to be the most fun.

Figures on a Loch Kieren Hughes

Kieren’s beautiful and haunting paintings are currently on display at Jam in a Jar in Harringay.

Jam in a Jar
599 Green Lanes
N8 0RE