Sara Hughes

Double Happy, 2006
acrylic on linen
95 x 185 cm each panel; 95 x 370 cm (overall)
signed ‘Sara Hughes’ and stencilled ‘DOUBLE HAPPY, 2006, Acrylic on Linen’ (all on the reverse)

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Criterion Gallery, Hobart
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2006

Upload, Criterion Gallery, Hobart, 2006

In the mid-2000s, Sara Hughes read a novel by the speculative fiction writer William Gibson called Pattern Recognition (2003), which follows a heroine living in a world overwhelmed by cyberspace, advertising and digital information.

Responding to this novel, Hughes created a body of work reflecting on the pervasiveness of digital communication in the mid-2000s, a theme which has only become more relevant over time. 

Double Happy
 (2006) is a large-scale diptych from this body of work depicting a loosely symmetrical array of colour and geometry. The vast field of concentric rhombuses and blue dots receding to an empty vanishing point in the centre of the work creates a similar visual effect to the Star Gate sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, pulling the viewer into the white void.

The title of the work derives from a Chinese character associated with marriage that has become a common decorative motif on art and advertising products. Its use here seems to hint at the duality of living a digital and an analogue life and what it means to be happy in a virtual world.  

First exhibited in Upload (2006) – Hughes’ second Australian exhibition at Criterion Gallery, Hobart – that same year, related works were shown in Crash, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand.

In her artist statement for Crash, Hughes wrote about this body of work as follows:
“The work appears to pause or capture a split second of the endless data transmission that occurs in cyberspace. Resembling explosions or implosions of matter or information I aim to engage the viewer in a space that has accelerated beyond the horizon into a floating swarm of fragmented facets. The work utilizes an iterating format of squares and circles, yet there is a subversive nature to these grids that have been stretched and squeezed out of their formal constrains. They allude to multiplications and mutations of data that are spreading and replicating in an endless transmission on the planetary web of computer networks.”

Jack Howard

  • Double Happy

Image courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. Photograph by Geoff Boccalatte

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Bio to come