Eye Machination

Chiasmus is often used by imaginative artists. Wilde wrote that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life” and “work is the curse of the drinking classes”. Magritte reversed the usual mermaid and painted one with a head of a fish and the body of a woman.

The given formula, the cliché, is often re-generated to create new ideas. There are many modern artists who use the leaden irony of being original by being unoriginal, for instance, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

Lautréamont wrote the Surrealist example of imagination as “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table”. In my own art, I have used the reversal of forced perspective to create reverspective, which when viewed, comes to life, and seems to move in concert with our own bodily sensations. Reverspective is a creation that has many crass imitators, showing how imagination can be copied but not repeated, it must be meant and thought through.

I have used my imagination in my many rainbow pictures where I have made them the opposite of what they are in nature: grey when they come into a prison; made a sky full of them; leaned the rainbow against the sky; wrapped the rainbow to go in the post, hung it over the moon at night. The imagination must delight in doing the opposite, the reverse, the inside-out and upside-down. A cliché is “Never a borrower or a lender be”, I have adapted that phrase to “Never a follower or a leader be”. The poet must propose something new and something deep. The great works of imagination, like the stories of Kafka, the songs of Ivor Cutler, the plays of N.F. Simpson, the novel of Laurence Sterne, the paintings of René Magritte, are both funny and true.


Patrick Hughes is an English artist and creator of “reverspective”, an optical illusion on a three-dimensional surface where parts which seem farthest away are actually physically the nearest. Seeing these sculptured paintings is to “experience unreality and the paradox of illusory space and movement.”