May 23, 2015
Mario Cutajar on hugo crosthwaite
Hugo Crosthwaite’s latter-day baroque realism is important for reasons that extend beyond the opportunities it affords the artist to display his considerable skills as a draughtsman. They are reasons that have to do with the vicissitudes of representation in an age assumed to have a surfeit of it.
Thanks to the omnipresence of “reality” TV programming, today there would seem to be no such thing as TMI when it comes to the minutiae of celebrity lives in their various phases of ascent and dispersal. more
This media-manufactured froth, while claiming to deliver reality in its most scandalous immediacy, functions instead as an insulator against the harsher realities that govern the lives of those whom neoliberal economics have effectively reduced to the status of vermin. Reality TV is the ultimate confirmation of Baudrillard’s now-hoary thesis that the globalization of capital-ism has reduced reality to its mere (dis)simulation.
It is in this context that the persistence of representation in a medium as poignantly anachronistic as drawing achieves its paradoxical significance. Drawing keeps it real, it counters simulation, by owning up to, and actually delighting in, its own contrivance. It rescues us from the Matrix-like phantasmagoria of simulation by reacquainting us with the conventionality of representation and, in Crosthwaite’s case, with the dignity that representation can confer on subjects that neoliberal economic practice is interested in only as exploitable low-wage labor.
The title of his current show, “Tijuana Radiant Shine,” will seem opaque until it is understood as referencing a short poem/song by Edgar Allen Poe originally titled “A Catholic Hymn” (subsequently, “A Hymn”) that is a short prayer beseeching the Virgin to grant a “Future radiant shine” to succeed a time of darkness. On display are 14 largish drawings executed in graphite and acrylic on panel. The artist eschews color in favor of gray tone, which insinuates associations with both photography and urban grime.
The theme of Tijuana, Crosthwaite’s hometown and a gateway city on the Mexican-American border (whose fence is the city’s northernmost physical limit), has driven his graphic output over the years. He has remarked that like his own drawings, whose beguilingly photographic level of detail testifies to both an immigrant’s fierce attachment to place of origin and an extraordinary visual memory, Tijuana is an entirely improvised, “organic” city. As Peter Frank has observed, Crosthwaite’s realism is of the magic realist kind, something that becomes particularly evident from the way that in his drawings, characters and scenery from a variety of sources and semiotic regimes cohabit together. It is a realism fully committed to the idea that reality is fundamentally a symbolic construct structured by a jumble of internalized discourses. Thus, while Tijuana is the ostensible subject, its exacerbated cultural hybridity serves the artist as a privileged metaphor for the never-finished construction of subjectivity itself.
Juxtaposition was used by the Surrealists to summon what they called the marvelous. In the ‘80s, it was employed by a generation of post-Pop cynics to suggest the ruination of signification in general. Crosthwaite employs it to a different end or ends. Through the layering of different graphic conventions (cartoons, graffiti, commercial signage, diagrams, Mayan glyphs, photo-based illustration) his juxtapositions establish the deliberateness of the framing and choice of subject matter. In other words, it makes transparent the montage that reality TV naturalizes in order to achieve a simulation of reality.
But just as importantly, Crosthwaite’s use of the physical abutment of his drawings speaks to the cultural dislocation that is at the heart of immigrant experience. The artist’s own private Tijuana embodies the suspension between cultures that troubles every immigrant. There is a certain squalidness that goes with this condition. The space of the in-between, as Julia Kristeva observed, is the space of abjection. But, as she also noted, it is in response to abjection and as a means of allaying its terrors that the most visceral poetry and art originates.
Crosthwaite’s achievement here is to have found in drawing (and in the sublimation of defilement that drawing allows) a means to honor cultural hybridity and those who might be dismissed as merely its victims. Getting past Tijuana’s renown for its featurelessness, poverty, crime, pollution and a host of related ills, he discovers in its chaos an unlimited license for graphic appropriation and improvisation ...and an anchor for a conflicted cultural identity.
PUBLISHED IN ARTSCENE, JUNE 2015.
May 21, 2015
Turning a Personal & Artistic Vision into Commentary, Mexican-born Humanist Artist Hugo Crosthwaite at LDJ
Inaugurated last Saturday, May 16th, 2015 at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is an exhibition entitled "Tijuana Radiant Shine and Shattered Mural" (On View through June 20th) by Mexican-born, Gallery artist Hugo Crosthwaite.
A Grand Prize recipient of the XI Bienal Monterrey FEMSA, Crosthwaite, 43, is having his large-scale wall drawing installation included in the exhibition The House on Mango Street currently on view at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. [ READ MORE ]
May 19, 2015
Hugo Crosthwaite featured: LA Times Review | Gallery Report: Stitched paintings, a shattered mural, hidden heads
It's a good time to be trotting around Los Angeles. looking at art. A short tour Saturday through Culver City — with one stop in West Hollywood — turned up some wild abstractions, naughty stitched collages, a funny video that plays on female beauty tropes and a stirring mural shattered into 43 pieces.
At Luis De Jesus, Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite delivers a terrific gathering of works that straddle the divide between painting and sculpture and the real and the unreal. more
May 19, 2015
artist of the week: matthew carter
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?
I’m currently working on a series of collages that focus on the aesthetic practices and media representations of John Wayne Gacy aka “the killer clown” and Albert Speer aka “the good nazi.” Both figures encompass the idea of the psychopath, but from different trajectories. John Wayne Gacy, as I’m sure you must know, was a serial killer active in 1970s Chicago, IL. more
May 15, 2015
hugo crosthwaite featured: LA TIMES, "Datebook: Dirigibles, comic book noir and photos of the American West"
A sculpture that floats. Paintings that take a sculptural turn. Iconic imagery of the American West. Plus: a panel about black conceptualism, a show that touches on the Mexican Revolution, and lots of evil eye. Here’s what we have in our Datebook:
Hugo Crosthwaite, “Tijuana Radiant Shine” and “Shattered Mural,” at Luis de Jesus. Crosthwaite’s signature black-and-white-noir-meets-Mexican-comic-books style of paintings take a sculptural turn in his latest solo show at Luis De Jesus. Looks like one not to miss. more
April 10, 2015
L.A. Times Review: Gonzales-day fills the holes of history
Ken Gonzales-Day's work is instructive but far from didactic. It's a history lesson taught through the framing of holes in the record and by collapsing the space between different times and places. It disturbs in direct proportion to its importance, and it does disturb.
Gonzales-Day began his "Erased Lynching" series in 2000 to explore the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of racially motivated lynching. In his new work at Luis De Jesus, he extends the series into film for the first time. [ READ MORE ]
April 02, 2015
ken gonzales-day featured:
Datebook: Art of the column, visions of Hell, California's dark history
Ken Gonzales-Day, “Run Up,” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Photographer Gonzales-Day continues his investigation into the history of Latino lynchings in California — part of his “Erased Lynching” series. In a new body of work, he has re-staged a historic 1920 lynching that occurred in Santa Rosa using actors and captures their actions in film and photography. more
April 01, 2015
ken gonzales-day featured: "Glasstire: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TOP 5 EVENTS"
3. Ken Gonzales-Day: RUN UP
Ken Gonzales-Day, who has been studying the history of lynching for years, based his first film, Run Up, on a reenactment of events surrounding a 1920 lynching of a Latino names Charles Valento in Santa Rosa. The Scripps professor will screen the film and exhibit a series of still photographs from it. He'll also show photographs shot last November, during an L.A. protest march following the Grand Jury’s contested decision to acquit the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson. [ READ MORE ]
April 01, 2015
Ken gonzales-day featured: "the guide: 30 can't-miss events in april"
The LA artist is known for incorporating vintage images of lynchings into those of beautiful trees. The exhibition", "Run Up showcases his latest work, which includes photographs of the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting. luisdejesus.com
April 01, 2015
ken gonzales-day at luis de jesus los angeles
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to present Ken Gonzales-Day: Run Up, the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, on view from April 4 through May 9. The exhibition will present Gonzales-Day’s newest series of photographs and the premiere of his first film, Run Up—a project of Creative Capital, which Gonzales-Day was awarded in 2012. The gallery will host an informal breakfast and artist talk moderated by Kate Palmer Albers, Ph.D., to coincide with PARIS PHOTO Los Angeles, on Sunday, May 3 from 8 to 11am. [ READ ON ]