Basharat Bashir

Reverspective Art

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Perspective in art usually refers to the representation of three-dimensional objects or spaces in two dimensional artworks. By using perspective techniques artists are able to create a realistic impression of depth. Perspective has been alongside with art for a long time and it has been extensively employed by artists in their paintings. As artists grew more and more comfortable with this tool for rendering three dimensional illusions on a two-dimensional surface, they began exploring and innovating variety of perspectives. From one point perspective to two point perspective and during the past century or so, artists have come around to using three-point and even four-point perspective. And artists did not stop there we also have a reverse perspective.

Reverspective shortened term used for reverse perspective , also called inverse perspective, inverted perspective, divergent perspective, or Byzantine perspective, is a form of perspective drawing in which the objects depicted in a scene are placed between the projective point and the viewing plane. Reverspective art is in contrast with conventional linear perspective in a way that in reverspective art objects that are farther away from the viewing plane are drawn larger than the objects that are closer. According to renowned Reverspective artist Robert Patricks, Reverspectives are three-dimensional paintings that when viewed from the front initially gives the impression of viewing a painted flat surface that shows a perspective view. However as soon as the viewer moves their head even slightly the three dimensional surface that supports the perspective view accentuates the depth of the image and accelerates the shifting perspective far more than the brain normally allows. This provides a powerful and often disorienting impression of depth and movement. The illusion is made possible by painting the view in reverse to the relief of the surface, that is, the bits that stick farthest out from the painting are painted with the most distant part of the scene.

Moreover in Reverspective art, parallel lines that normally converge in linear perspective are drawn diverging against the horizon and vanishing points are placed outside the painting rather than in front. The use of this sort of perspective can also be found in Byzantine and Russian Orthodox icons giving it the name ‘Byzantine perspective’.

Although Art historians are not certain about how deliberately artists created Reverspective art, since the artists involved in forming the convention did not have access to more realistic linear perspective conventions, but reverse perspective or Reverspective art can be seen in many pre Renaissance cultures and was also used by Cubists and by artists in other movements of modern art, as well as in children’s drawings.

Patrick Hughes

Patrick was born in October 1939, he is the creator of “reverspective”, an optical illusion on a three-dimensional surface where the parts of the picture which seem farthest away are actually physically the nearest. Influenced by the surrealistic Lilliput, comics and the absurdist theatre of Ionesco and N. F. Simpson, and many surrealist artists Patrick made his first reverspective, Sticking-out Room in 1964 three years after he held his first exhibition in 1961. Patricks’ original painted reliefs are concerned with optical and visual illusions, the science of perception and the nature of artistic representation.

Patrick is a British artist working in London. He was born in Birmingham and attended school in Kingston. He taught at Leeds College of Art and after leaving the college he completely devoted himself to art,.  His first “reverse perspective” or “reverspective” was Sticking Out Room created in 1964, which was a life-size room for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1970. He returned to explore the possibilities of reverspective in 1990 with Up the Line and Down the Road (1991) Since then, his reverspectives have been shown in London, New York, Santa Monica, Seoul, Chicago, Munich and Toronto. The extraordinary illusions in his ‘ reverspectives’ is the subject of scientific papers on the psychology of perception, by Nicholas Wade and Thomas Papathomas of Rutgers University’s Laboratory of Vision Research.

In his early works Pattrick used humorous characters with playful use of color and posture. Before turning towards ‘reverspective’  he often experimented with interaction of words and symbols with images. He explored visual oxymorons and paradoxes, his fascination with the illusion of perspective began as early as 1963 and he developed himself as the creator of reverspective art.

In the 1970s Hughes hung his investigations of perception and illusion on the motif of the rainbow in a series of prints and paintings, such as Pile of Rainbows (1973), Prison Rainbow (1973) and Leaning on a Landscape (1979). Later prints like Leaf Art (1975) and paintings like Realistic Paint (1977) expressed similar interests with colour.

Patrick has written and collated three books on the visual and verbal rhetoric of the paradox and oxymoron. He has also written four books investigating themes that parallel his art. His latest is Paradoxymoron: Foolish Wisdom in Words and Pictures, published in 2011. His other books are Vicious Circles and Infinity: A Panoply of Paradoxes (with artist George Brecht); Upon the Pun: Dual Meaning in Words and Pictures, with Paul Hammond (London, W.H. Allen, 1978); and More on Oxymoron (Jonathan Cape, Ltd. 1984) which investigates both verbal and visual oxymoron. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian and ICA Magazine, among others, on art, artists and interesting lives. A collection of his writings, Left to Write, was published by Momentum in 2008. The third edition of John Slyce’s Patrick Patricks: Perverspective was published in 2011, with a new afterword by Murray McDonald. Most recently, A New Perspective, a 240-page monograph with essays by Professor Dawn Adès, Professor Martin Kemp, Murray McDonald and Dr Thomas Papathomas, was published by Flowers Gallery in November 2014, followed by A Newer Perspective, in 2017.

In July 2011, Patricks celebrated ‘Fifty Years in Showbusiness’ with two exhibitions, a retrospective at Flowers East, and current works in Flowers Cork Street.




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