Source: Glyn Hughes Book Catalogue 2003/2014 (revised)

This Welshman instinctively has chosen to visit the island of Cyprus in the mid-fifties. He stayed until the end of his life and has served endless roles, primarily as a painter, an art critic, a teacher, a stage designer and a poet.

It is with great difficulty that one can even begin to comprehend the magnitude of his work. Indeed very few people did, as the complexity of his productive network was like touching an elephant in the dark.

Glyn Hughes had a quality which was quite rare among artists. While belonging to, or rather, occupying a very important place in the history of modern art, and, more specifically, in the development of a unique brush stroke and movement on the canvas, following the footsteps of known geniuses of the previous century, he insisted to live fully in the present. Free from the bounds of artistic currents and labels, he remained a true contemporary, with all that implied in terms of freedom, sensitivity and critical analysis of the society he lived in.

He founded, along with the important, for Cyprus, contemporary artist Christoforos Savva, in the early sixties, Apophasis, the first contemporary art gallery that also served as the first discussion space for cutting edge ideas concerning art in Cyprus and elsewhere.

He contributed to Cyprus as an educator, an opinion former and as an important influence for young Cypriot artists from the sixties onwards.

Perhaps the greatest impact, however, was made in the form of inspiration. His ability to distribute doses of positive constructive criticism to upcoming artists could elevate their artistic qualities over the boundaries imposed by the isolated island, especially in difficult decades for art, in terms of communication as the sixties and seventies were.

With relative ease one feels the appeal and impact of his art, as his works convey highly meaningful messages that relate to all nations that suffered and/or have been trapped in the crisis of old Europe. The indomitable force of Hughes’ creativity as well as his technical mastery, his courage to go beyond the traditional definition of artwork and to reach unknown ground, helps one to regain the conviction that art is still capable of arousing strong emotions and awaking consciousness.

Hughes’ personal identity was defined from his very first drawings and paintings in the fifties. His creative energy however was well guarded by the boundaries imposed upon our physical and mental projections, by simply living on an island. And hence his work stayed within national levels of recognition rather than international.

His choice was made many years before when no doubt he placed on his soul-balance two criteria well documented by Sir Herbert Read in the late fifties.

Universality vs internationalism

Universality is a human quality.

Internationalism is a political concept.
Universality is a question of depth- of the depth of the artist's vision and sympathy.

Internationalism is a question of width-of the extent of which the artist is expected to appeal.
Universality is the expression of a personal vision or a subjective experience.

Internationalism is an objective record of contemporary events.

Read was describing the menu, ready to criticize any chosen food in the plate.

Hughes was the hungry soul and as he confined to me once while eating souvlaki in a small taverna in Kaimakli…he decided to go for the light and to get close to the earth rather than the fame.

Instinctively he was so close to the truth! He knew without evidence that he was doing the right thing staying in Cyprus. Spirituality is not knowledge but a way of life- a fact so delicately practiced by Hughes- verified not via daily and insignificant decisions but rather by huge statements and cutting edge life performances.

The artist’s significant contribution to the artistic development in Cyprus might have come as a surprise to many art lovers in his mother country during his glorious retrospective exhibition in 2005. It was important and essential for him that his homeland got to know at last of his achievements, on this island in the Eastern Mediterranean but also to be given an insight into the complexity, tension and depth of his life-time achievement. After all, as he joked at a personal note and laughed- the portrait of the mother of James Whistler is important because it is Whistlers mother.

Charalambos Sergiou