July 31, 2015
zackary drucker featured: 'I Am A Camera' opens lens on LGBTQ lives
The timing for FotoFest's "I Am A Camera: LGBTQ Communities Seen From Within" couldn't be better. This rainbow-infused summer has seen same-sex couples celebrate their newly won right to marry anywhere in the U.S. and Caitlyn Jenner navigate her new transgender life on the reality show "I Am Cait." But the exhibition reminds us that such freedoms aren't universal.
Steven Evans, FotoFest's executive director, spent 18 months curating the show, which features more than 200 aesthetically masterful works. more
July 27, 2015
review: HA HA! BUSINESS! at Luis De Jesus
Novelist Don DeLillo once quipped, “California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of lifestyle. This alone warrants their doom.” This concept is the curatorial mission behind HA HA! BUSINESS!, currently on view at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles. HA HA! BUSINESS! reprimands what it sees as a jingoistic and self-centered lifestyle—a world filled with social-media fiends who are willing to cut down the next person, or the world around them, for their own gain. [ READ MORE ]
June 25, 2015
'Transparent' Is “Built With Trans People Participating”, Says Associate Producer Zackary Drucker
Before Transparent, says Zackary Drucker, the transgender community was reflected in cinema through stereotypes—victims or villains on cop procedurals, disturbed serial killers in the likes of Psycho and Silence of the Lambs. From the outset, Transparent creator Jill Soloway sought a different approach. more
Drucker and her partner, Rhys Ernst, have been advocating for the trans community as artists and filmmakers for years, producing work that examines both sides of transgender experience—Drucker has transitioned from male to female and Ernst from female to male. It was Ernst who first met Soloway at the Sundance Film Festival, when they both presented shorts in the same program. [ READ MORE ]
June 23, 2015
artnet Asks: Josh Reames on Instagram, Astrophysics, and Kanye West
Four large canvases and a six-pack of Heinnieweisse provide a modest setting inside the Bushwick studio of Dallas-raised, Brooklyn-based painter Josh Reames.
The buzzworthy artist has upcoming shows in Milan, London, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Chicago. His works consciously employ commonly used artistic techniques, such as trompe-l'oeil, action painting, graphic design, screenprinting, and rudimentary drawing, all existing on one plane. [ READ MORE ]
June 20, 2015
paris photo agenda: Ha ha! business!
The art world is now a global business, of course, as is just about everything else. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Skype have become our new living room, our church, our megaphone--and, some would argue, our toilet, too. And, it seems everyone wants to sit on the throne and be heard. Life is now "all news, all the time" and humor is the unifying force that allows us to look in the mirror, if for no other reason than to get a quick reality check and, hopefully, a little truth. HA HA! BUSINESS! continues my quixotic interest in making sense of it all. [ READ MORE ]
June 15, 2015
BORDERLINE - Tijuana-born artist contrasts dejection and optimism in powerful Los Angeles exhibition…
Everything in the exhibition shares that interest in the fragmentary and the broken contrasted with the optimistic and the organic. Figures of myth, legend and pop-culture loom beside, across or behind the main figures...
Hugo Crosthwaite is no respecter of boundaries. more
June 11, 2015
matthew carter featured in press release: "Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic L.A.: A selection of the emerging L.A. art scene shown for the first time in France"
In November 2015, PIASA asked René-Julien Praz to conceive a sale devoted to emerging artists from the Los Angeles scene. The artists selected – whether established or cutting-edge – reflect a generation, era and culture that have inspired many of their contemporaries in recent years. The emerging L.A. art scene shown for the first time in France.
“Once I'd thought of the title, Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic L.A., nothing could seem more fitting. more
June 04, 2015
hugo crosthwaite at luis de jesus los angeles
Hugo Crosthwaite’s newest exhibition is powerful and evocative, but more importantly, perhaps, it speaks to our human frailties, specifically, the ways in which we process grief and hope. Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Hymn and the recent abduction and murder of 43 college students in the Mexican State of Guerrero, Crosthwaite has created a series of drawings and floor sculptures, taken from a shattered mural, that engage the viewer on a deeply emotional and psychic level simultaneously. [ READ MORE ]
May 29, 2015
Review: Hugo Crosthwaite on the border and a sorrowful loss
By SHARON MIZOTA, 3:30 PM | Hugo Crosthwaite’s exhibition at Luis De Jesus presents two distinct bodies of work. One deals with the recent murder of 43 college students in Guerrero, Mexico; the other, more murky, addresses the city of Tijuana, where Crosthwaite was born and grew up.
“Shattered Mural” is a beautiful commemoration of the college students. Forty-three freestanding panels, cut in quixotic shapes, are sprinkled across the floor. Propped upright like tombstones, each one depicts a black-and-white portrait of a victim. more
More ambitious is a series of black-and-white drawings of Tijuana carnival scenes in the front gallery. Mash-ups of photorealistic images of rides, taco stands, liquor stores and brothels, they are further overlaid with rough, cartoonish imagery of enigmatic figures or lumpy, intestinal shapes.
At first these interventions feel like defacements; on closer inspection they also convey a child-like glee. They are perhaps an effort to introduce another dimension of experience into otherwise bleak imagery.
Crosthwaite is certainly a virtuoso at juxtaposing and reconciling multiple spaces and realities. His works clearly reflect rich internal narratives about Tijuana’s role as a gateway between two separate, unequal ways of life. However, these stories are so deeply encoded, so densely layered, as to be nearly inaccessible.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 838-6000, through Jun. 20. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.luisdejesus.com
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May 29, 2015
Q&A: Hugo Crosthwaite on Tijuana, Mexico's missing, the power of comic books
By CAROLINA A. MIRANDA, 8:22 AM | Walk into the rear gallery at Luis De Jesus in Culver City and it will appear as if a wall has exploded. Scattered about the floor are jagged pieces of images that together seem as if they would form a mural — and indeed, that is the idea. The fragments are part of a work by Mexican artist Hugo Crosthwaite titled "Shattered Mural."
On first glance, the piece looks like a family photo that's been torn to bits. more
The piece, in many ways, addresses the countless lives claimed by Mexico's ongoing drug war — a response to the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in the fall of last year at the hands of police. It is on display in a two-part show at Luis De Jesus that also features a series of Crosthwaite's wall works, pieces inspired by the people and landscape of his native Tijuana.
The artist took some time to chat with me via Skype from Rosarito, just south of Tijuana, where he is currently based. (He also spends long stints in New York.) Crosthwaite discusses what led him to make "Shattered Mural," what inspires him about Tijuana, and why comic book art has proved so instructive.
You made "Shattered Mural" in honor of the 43 students from Aytozinapa who went missing late last year. What inspired this piece? And why have a tribute to them as a mural rendered in fragments?
I had been working on this show for two years and I started with the work that you see in the first gallery [at Luis De Jesus]. That work looks almost like crossword puzzles. They almost look like they want to come together and form something, but they really don’t. If you do put them together, they don’t form a unified narrative. When I got the second gallery, I thought, I’ll do the opposite: I’ll create a puzzle of all these pieces that do come together.
And that was right around the time Ayotzinapa happened. I remember, some stupid politician said something like, "Why are we making such a big fuss over 43 students?" I was infuriated. It’s not just 43 students. It’s thousands. It’s tens of thousands of people that have been killed.
So I thought, I’ll do a mural where I show people — figures from Tijuana and Rosarito and historical figures, with elements of [José Guadalupe] Posada and other icons — and then I'll shatter that mass of people. I wanted the idea of the humanity of Mexico being shattered.
Is this one mural shattered into 43 pieces? Or is it 43 individual murals? So you start to deal with this exponential number. That gets back to what the politician said. It’s not just 43. It’s an exponential 43.
The back sides of each of these pieces is covered in these quite lovely and very inoffensive decorative patterns. How did that idea come about?
I remember once in Tijuana and I did a mural and someone came and said, “I really like this dog. Can I cut the piece of the wall with the dog?” And I said, “I’ll do another dog.” And he said, "No I want that dog.” So we looked into cutting the wall. On the other side was a boutique, with this very nice wallpaper. I didn’t get to cut it. But that stayed with me. I like the idea of my drawing with this very nice wallpaper in the back. So for this piece, I created these Xerox transfers of very common wallpaper patterns.
In the fragments, you see images of performers, idols, cartoonish figures and what appear to be drawings of real people. Who are the individuals you feature in this piece?
It’s the idea of capturing all of humanity and their idiosyncrasies. You get La Llorona [the weeping woman of Latin American legend]. You get El Santo, the famous luchador. You have these dead babies that are dressed up as saints — part of this notion of sanctity from Catholicism. I did this image like of [the legendary actress] Maria Felix, a romantic figure, but she's next to this monster. And there are the people I capture from my own sketches around Tijuana. They are not people I know. I just go to the market or I walk the street and I take pictures of people coming and going, very regular people.
I did not want to feature the missing students. I wanted to be respectful. I wanted the idea of Mexico shattered over the massacre of these 43 students. But I didn’t want to do a literal memorial in a gallery where the work will be sold. That is not appropriate.
In your work, you'll often pair some really mundane activity (a guy making tacos) with something outrageous (a half-dressed woman right over his head) — as if you are revealing what can't always be seen.
Well, I was playing with this notion of a puzzle — a puzzle you couldn't unite. But I started seeing small things, aesthetic things, that could be connected: There might be a line in one drawing and you’d see it in another drawing. I then started thinking of the whole notion of these very disparate narratives and how they unite in some way, but they’re not literally connected. In a way, they are forced to be connected.
Well, that's what happens in a city. You can’t choose your neighbors. So you will have the taco stand and then above it, you’ll have the brothel. There is a connection and it’s Tijuana, it's the grittiness of the city, this city that is improvised and chaotic.
On view, you have another series of works called "Tijuana Radiant Shine." These feature strange views of the city: a man with a monstrous mask, a dummy sitting in a car, weird apparitions. How much of this is the actual Tijuana landscape and how much of this is your own invention?
They’re a mixture of everything. They're a mixture of sketches that I do. I’m always making ink drawings. There are faces that I see and I draw them. Then the rest, I make up from other imagery: from comic books, from newspaper articles. I take a face and then I unite them with other things. I might need an arm, so I might grab it from a comic book. Or if I'm looking from a leg, I might get one from a fashion magazine. Many of [my figures] are like Frankenstein monsters made up of all these different parts. You can do that in drawings. You can take all of these elements and you mold them together into one piece.
The drawing that shows the dummy sitting in traffic: That's cars in line at the border. I didn’t want to draw a person, so I grabbed a face from a fashion model and the body, I took it from a 1930s pictures of a clothing dummy. But then I worked on it to make it into a whole composition: this dummy sitting in traffic.
It’s about how you feel when you’re trying to cross the border. It should take you five minutes, but you can be there for hours.
Comic-book style characters regularly appear in your work. How much of an influence have comic books been for you?
I didn't read comic books as a kid. I came to comics when I was in New York. I was incorporating a lot of the graffiti I saw in New York into my work. I started to get into this graphic kind of work and that led me to comic books and Jack Kirby and black-and-white comic books — a little bit of everything.
I often do wall installations and they will give me four, five days to complete it. It’s not like the work I usually do which is very dense. I've done murals that took me nine months. But often I don't get that kind of time. So I've been looking at comic books for their simplicity of line and the ways in which they tell a narrative simply. Comic books do that. It’s very effective.
How does Tijuana inspire you as an artist? What aspects of the city are we seeing of it in your work?
I think my first motivation is the aesthetics of the city. I call it a chaotic sediment of urbanization. It also comes from my growing up in the curio shop that my father ran. Everything was a mess, but it was an organized mess. There was an order to it. But at first impression you come in, it looks like a mess.
You go to a store in the U.S. and everything is really neat and perfect. But you go to a shop in Tijuana, every little corner is filled. It’s almost baroque. And it looks like there is no plan. That’s what Tijuana is. At first impression, it looks chaotic. But it has an order to it.
Hugo Crosthwaite's "Tijuana Radiant Shine" and "Shattered Mural" are on view at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles through June 20. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, luisdejesus.com.
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