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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000


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

Paralleling the transformation of the American economy into a self-cannibalizing apparatus for producing financial bubbles, the contemporary culture industry flourishes on the basis of inflating meager personalities into gargantuan and momentarily attention-grabbing iridescent figures that delight as much by their abrupt appearance and seemingly miraculous buoyancy as by their often catastrophic return to nothingness. (Jeff Koons’ metallic balloon dogs, one of which sold for close to $60 million a few years back, can thus be recognized as perfect markers of the cultural moment they inhabit.)

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.


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

Crosthwaite skillfully skips around from realistic to cartoonish drawing styles and from contemporary reality to history to fiction — to the point where it can be difficult to tell which is which. These are pieces worth savoring, since the joy is in discovering the many hidden details.

The piece de resistance at Luis de Jesus is Crosthwaite's "Shattered Mural," which takes the idea of the conventional mural and atomizes it into several dozen pieces on the gallery floor that the viewers can walk through and around. A beautiful installation. This is a show not to miss.

Hugo Crosthwaite, "Tijuana Radiant Shine" and "Shattered Mural," are on view through June 20 at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City,

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

He fits the profile of your classic psychopath and was sentenced to death for his crimes. Albert Speer got his start as Hitler’s architect and later became Hitler’s Minister of Armaments, and was responsible for managing Germany’s war economy during the second half of WWII. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Nuremberg. He fits the profile of what is called an “Industrial Psychopath”.  [ READ 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

Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through 20. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City,  [ READ MORE ]

May 12, 2015

JOSH REAMES FEATURED: First Look - Frieze Week | 30 Emerging Artists to Watch Across Frieze Week

The Dallas-born Reames taunts us with snaps of drying canvases—a friendly offering in the countdown to Frieze, from which we conclude that pyramids, playing cards, and words penned in memespeak will appear in his brand new work. As one could imagine, given that his paintings hang in The Hole’s current group show, “Post-Analog Painting”—amongst angry birds and oil-rendered anime—Reames communicates in the language of the internet.   more

His dialect, one of floating clip art, drop-shadowed emoji, and airbrush, is brilliantly universal. [ READ MORE ]

May 06, 2015


Look hard and you might spot Zackary Drucker in Transparent, the Amazon dramedy about Mort-who's-becoming-Maura. Drucker appears on screen as a support-group facilitator for only a few moments, but her behind-the-scenes influence was profound. Along with filmmaker Rhys Ernst, she advised series creator Jill Soloway on shaping storylines, developing Maura's backstory, bringing on trans actors and crew members and ensuring the on-set bathrooms were gender-neutral. [ READ MORE ]

April 20, 2015

josh reames featured: 5 Must-See Gallery Shows: Gaetano Pesce, Nina Beier, and More


“Time Flies Like a Banana” at Johannes Vogt Gallery, through May 9 (526 West 26th Street, Suite 205)

A three-person show of work by Josh Reames, Ron Ewert, and Greg Ito, this exhibition earns its oddly slapstick title. Reames — a Dallas artist recently relocated to Brooklyn — continues to kill it with painted and airbrushed canvases that resemble cluttered computer screens awash with jarring medleys of clip art (a happy cigarette here, some purple-tinted lemons there).   more

Ewert’s paintings are stark black-on-white renderings of faces or what seem to be jittery, nearly indecipherable street scenes. Ito presents a series of “model cakes” sourced online, their faux-fruit toppings pierced by cheap belly button rings and the like. An accompanying sculpture pairs similarly adorned fake plants threaded into off-white office blinds. A bright yellow stud-wall bisects the gallery space, allowing room to hang additional paintings, as well as a door propped open by a plastic baguette.

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

The show also includes stills that incorporate images that Gonzales-Day made in Los Angeles, during protests of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown.  [ READ ON ]