Allowing the act of drawing to organically dictate his compositions in works that range from intimate drawings to large scale murals, Hugo Crosthwaite juxtaposes a wide range of textural and tonal ranges against spaces that alternate from dense and atmospheric to flat and graphic. Two seminal series of drawings, titled "Carpas" and "Tijuanerias", pay homage to Goya's "Caprichos" with its depiction of grotesque and surrealistic figures and themes executed in an informal, sketch-like style. His subjects—the everyday men, women and children that populate the border region of San Diego/Tijuana—are presented in a non-idealized documentary style that allows them to appear in their humble familiarity and authenticity.
Crosthwaite alternates between mythological subjects and contemporary ones, often combining the two. Francisco Goya, Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Doré, Jose Guadalupe Posada, and Arnold Böcklin are among the many artists that have inspired his work. He also includes an exploration of modern abstraction in his compositions, which he approaches in a totally improvisational manner. The joining of abstraction with classically-rendered imagery creates a feeling of spontaneity and vagueness; each work becomes an enfoldment of personal vision in which reality, history, and mythology collide as he explores the complexities of human expression.
Hugo Crosthwaite was born 1971 in Tijuana and spent his formative years in Rosarito, Mexico. An American citizen with family on both sides of the border, he graduated from San Diego State University in 1997 with a BA in Applied Arts. Crosthwaite lives and works in San Diego, CA and Rosarito, Mexico.
Crosthwaite is the 2019 winner of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. His works are included in the permanent collections Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; San Diego Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; The Progressive Art Collection, and numerous private collections around the world.
The gallery is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite has been chosen to commisson a portrait of public health expert Anthony S. Fauci for Portrait of a Nation 2022 Honoree to be exhibited in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Crosthwaite’s portrait will be debuted alongside new commissions by Kenturah Davis, David Hockney, Kadir Nelson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Robert Pruitt, and Ruven Afanador. Crosthwaite's innovative piece presents a stop-motion animated piece of Dr. Fauci and will be accompanied by seven drawings.
We are delighted to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite was recently awarded the 2021 SD Art Prize. This year the prize focused on binational artists and he along with Beliz Iristay, PANCA Paola Villaseñor and Perry Vasquez were recognized for their tireless work to bring creativity and passion for their art to the San Diego Arts Community. These artists will be showcased in a group show opening in October. Founded and supported since 2006 by the San Diego Visual Arts Network, the SD Art Prize was conceived to promote visibility and public interest in talented local artists, and encourage community engagement and critical dialogue with San Diego’s contemporary art scene.
The gallery is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite and Federico Solmi's work will be included in The Outwin: American Portraiture show, which has now traveled to D'amour Museum of Fine Arts. The Outwin: American Portraiture Today premiered at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in the fall of 2019. Every three years, artists living and working in the United States are invited to submit one of their recent portraits to a panel of experts chosen by the museum in the call for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The works of nearly 50 finalists were selected from over 2,600 entries. For the first time in the triennial’s history, the museum specifically asked that submissions respond “to the current political and social context,” and this resulting presentation offers perspectives on some of today’s most pressing issues.
The gallery is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite will be participating in a virtual first friday put on by the ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station and the NTC foundation from 4:00-7:00 PM PST. This event will be free with registration and highlights 7 unique artists, performances, walkthroughs and talks. Hugo Crosthwaite will be discussing his installation at the Station mural Column A and Column B: A continual mural narrative performance.
This mural was created in 16 days and was a performance about creative process and nature of art. He'll also be showcasing his video Tzompantli, a stop-motion animation that draws from the motifs from the installation. There will be a subsequent Q & A.
The gallery is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite will be included in film festival, Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia. He will be screening his new film, A Home for the Brave as part of the Mexican Short Film Section and it will be screened at the Cinépolis Morelia Centro, Cinépolis Las Américas as well as concurrent online screenings for an international audience.
The festival will take place between October 28- November 1, 2020
The gallery is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite will join Judithe Hernández and Itzel Basualdo for an Artist Panel Discussion moderated by Maryanna G. Ramirez and Amy Galpin of the Frost Art Museum. Featured in the Frost Art Museum’s exhibition, Otros Lados, these artists bring distinct perspectives to Mexican and Mexican American experiences.
Hugo Crosthwaite will participate in a three-artist exhibition Otros Lados at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, FL. "Al otro lado" is a phrase used in Mexico to describe areas of the United States populated by Mexican immigrants. The fluid nature of migration, exile, labor, and cultural exchanges between Mexico and the U.S., resonate in the daily lives of people in both countries.
Kim Sajet, noted art historian and the first woman to serve as Director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, will speak at the Burlingame Public Library on Sunday, January 26th. Born in Nigeria, raised in Australia, and a citizen of the Netherlands, Sajet brings a global perspective to the position. She is also the host of the Portrait Gallery’s new podcast series, “Portraits,” which explores themes of art, history, and biography.
Kim will introduce Hugo Crosthwaite, the first-prize winner of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. His award-winning stop-motion drawing animation, A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chavez, will be shown at the event.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to announce that Hugo Crosthwaite's drawings Tijuanerias #34 (2011) and Tijuanerias #48 (2011) were acquired by the Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody for The Bunker Artspace in West Palm Beach, FL. The drawings are part of a series titled Tijuanerias in which the artist, inspired by Goya's Los Caprichos, creates new myths and narratives about the violence and excesses of narco wealth in his hometown of Tijuana. These drawings were featured in the artist's first solo exhibition with the Gallery, Tijuanerias on view from April 14 - May 26, 2012. Presenting rotating exhibitions and viewable storage of the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, The Bunker Artspace opened in December 2017 and showcases a wide range of contemporary art by both well-known and emerging artists, displayed alongside iconic pieces of furniture and other curiosities.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is proud to announce that gallery artist Hugo Crosthwaite has been awarded First Prize in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
Hugo Crosthwaite’s work will be presented in The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, a major exhibition premiering at the National Portrait Gallery October 26, 2019 through August 20, 2020. The exhibit will present the work of this year’s nearly 50 finalists, including seven artists that were shortlisted for prizes, selected from over 2,600 entries. As the first-prize winner, Crosthwaite receives a cash award of $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a notable living person for the museum’s permanent collection.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced the finalists for its fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Their work will be presented in The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, a major exhibition premiering at the National Portrait Gallery Oct. 26 through Aug. 30, 2020. Every three years, artists living and working in the United States are invited to submit one of their recent portraits to a panel of experts chosen by the museum. The works of this year’s nearly 50 finalists were selected from over 2,600 entries. The first-prize winner, to be announced this fall, will receive a cash award of $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living person for the museum’s permanent collection.
Hugo Crosthwaite is a storyteller at heart. Through his drawings, which range from intimate, black-and-white ink sketches to large-scale, charcoal murals, Crosthwaite closely studies the everyday. Much of his work reflects both on his formative years in Rosarito, Baja California—a city just 10 miles south of the international border—as well as his adult life, which he’s spent straddling the U.S./Mexico border.
A procession of wooden plinths hold aloft groups of idol-sized sculptures, stout bodies with the hallmarks of Mayan figurines, whose torsos sport schematic rib cages, hearts and organs, and are topped with faces rendered in a contemporary style—portraits of migrants and asylum-seekers at the US-Mexico border whom the artist regularly sketches while they wait to make the crossing. This is “Caravan,” a series of sculptures and a short stop-motion animation in which they star—the anchor of a new exhibition by Hugo Crosthwaite in which he continues his decades-long process of documenting the personal experiences and individual stories of the human beings who undertake this perilous journey.
Tijuana-born artist Hugo Crosthwaite’s work combines portraiture, sketching, painting, ceramics, photography and animation to create dense and layered compositions. Working primarily in black and white, Crosthwaite brings characters from allegory and popular media to illustrate the human condition, interacting with the architecture of Tijuana and dreams of the border. His work often elevates the ordinary person to heroic levels showing the trials they endure while surviving in contemporary society.
The Museum of Contemporary Art added 123 works by 68 artists to its collection in 2022, which now numbers nearly 8,000 artworks, museum officials announced Tuesday. The acquisitions reflect a diverse group of artists, including many from Los Angeles.
At Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles, the artist displays figurines, paintings and animations that draw on the physical, psychological and cultural landscapes of borderlands
Conceptually positioned in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico, ‘Hugo Crosthwaite: Caravan’ at Luis De Jesus deploys the languages of artistic and popular media to portray both the perils of the border and the humanity of those who must traverse it.
This show, 20 years in the making, follows Hugo Crosthwaite, a Tijuana artist who draws from his experience as a citizen living on the Mexico–U.S. border, sharing what he observed of the landscape and politics. For his new exhibit “Caravan,” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Crosthwaite spent days with a camera and sketchbook, capturing portraits and stories of the thousands of migrants and refugees trekking the border. The show includes paintings, sculptures and videos that are inspired by the stories he witnessed. This recommendation from The Times’ art and design columnist Carolina Miranda is currently open and runs until March 4.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles opening reception for Mimi Smith and Hugo Crosthwaite’s solo exhibitions: The opening reception for the new solo exhibitions at the downtown Los Angeles gallery has been rescheduled from last Saturday to this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. While the exhibit itself is still available to view, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to celebrate the shows with fellow artists and art lovers. Details can be found on Luis De Jesus Los Angeles’ website.
Hugo Crosthwaite's paintings, sculpture, and stop-motion videos in Caravan speak to the reality faced by migrants as they make the treacherous journey to the border in search of the American Dream.
The three contributors to the smart, nervy “Land of the Free” examined borders, migration and the vexed, static-clouded conversation that takes place between mutually distrustful cultures. Joe Minter brought martial-looking sculptures assembled from scrap iron and used car parts, Hugo Crosthwaite painted murals of his native Tijuana on the MANA walls, and Vincent Valdez haunted visitors with the faces of the Central American disappeared, printed on translucent rice paper, spotlighted and hung like ghostly banners from the ceiling of a narrow chamber that felt very much like a temple. Together, they suggested that barriers impede those who erect them as much as they harm those they restrain.
MANA came roaring back with gorgeous, provocative, emotional show that highlighted everything that the institution does well, and reaffirmed its indispensability to Jersey City arts. “Land of the Free” also felt familiar: Joe Minter’s wonderfully belligerent sculptures made of rusted chains and car parts were continuous with the Hudson County tradition of adaptive re-use in visual art, and Hugo Crosthwaite’s lively drawings of his native Tijuana presented the Mexican border city as a place of danger, exhilaration, and cultural collisions very much like the ones we’ve all grown accustomed to in urban Jersey.
This year the exhibition added seven more portraits and among them the stop-motion animation portrait of Anthony S Fauci by artist Hugo Crosthwaite. The innovative piece offers an atypical approach to the portrait genre. The artwork compiles a stop-motion animation that suits nineteen drawings from which only seven will be in view at the exhibition.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was the first to accept his Portrait of a Nation Award. As Hugo Crosthwaite’s moving portrait captivated the audience, the room fell silent, heavy with the weight of uncertainty that has shaped the last few years and in reverence for the man who became synonymous with hope as the nation battled a devastating public health crisis in COVID-19.
Anthony Fauci said that when he was approached by the National Portrait Gallery of an “unusual person” they suggested to create his portrait, “not only was I not reluctant about it, I got very excited about it.” The Fauci work from artist Hugo Crosthwaite covers the bookends of his career, from his work on HIV/AIDS in the 1980s to the current Covid pandemic.
Mexican artist Hugo Crosthwaite is being honored this weekend in Washington, D.C. as the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery opens the "Portrait of a Nation" exhibition. Crosthwaite's portrait of Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, will be unveiled Thursday alongside portraits of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Ava DuVernay, Clive Davis, Marian Wright Edelman and José Andrés.
A stop-motion drawing animation of Dr. Anthony Fauci by San Diego/Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite has been selected to appear in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. The portrait is one of six honoring “extraordinary individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people” as part of the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Awards.
National Portrait Gallery is honoring seven influential minds at their upcoming Portrait of A Nation exhibition. Serena and Venus Williams, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Marian Wright Edelman, Ava DuVernay, José Andrés and Clive Davis were chosen to become immortals on canvas for the showing. Other pieces feature a photograph portrait of Marian Wright Edelman, work by José Andres, Kenturah Davis, and Hugo Crosthwaite that will all show in Portrait of a Nation, showing at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. on November 10 to October 22, 2023.
Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and the filmmaker Ava DuVernay are among the famous faces going on show on November 10 in the “Portrait of a Nation” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Hugo Crosthwaite’s multifaceted depiction of Fauci consists of both a series of drawings and a stop motion animation.
Serena and Venus Williams, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Marian Wright Edelman, Ava DuVernay, José Andrés and Clive Davis have been chosen as the seven recipients to be honored at the National Portrait Gallery’s (NPG) upcoming “Portrait of a Nation” exhibition. Highlights also include Hugo Crosthwaite’s stop-motion animation of Dr. Fauci, who became the face of the US’ response to the COVID pandemic.
The museum’s new works also include a portrait of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President who spearheaded the American response to COVID-19. Hugo Crosthwaite diverged from the other commissioned artists’ more traditional interpretations of portraiture and created a stop-motion animation. Crosthwaite’s work also includes 19 drawings on paper, and seven will be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery’s upcoming exhibition.
The Portrait Gallery has also commissioned a portrait of the public health expert Fauci by artist Hugo Crosthwaite (b. 1971), first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The resulting artwork is composed of a stop-motion drawing animation and suite of 19 drawings on paper, seven of which will be on view.
The new additions—which will be exhibited on the museum’s first floor through October 22, 2023—include a joyous Serena Williams by Toyin Ojih Odutola, the duplicity of Venus Williams visualized by Robert Pruitt, José Andrés feeding the world by Kadir Nelson, a multimedia imagining of Anthony Fauci and his work by Hugo Crosthwaite, an abstraction of Ava DuVernay evoking the moving image by artist Kenturah Davis, and more.
Anthony Fauci doesn't know how history will remember him, but he does know how it will see him. On a recent Saturday, he's inside a private room at Washington's National Portrait Gallery, looking at the work of art that will hang alongside presidents, celebrities, inventors and other distinguished Americans. It's a video –– a stop motion animation –– chronicling his landmark career through a series of intense drawings that leap out from the screen.
The sensation of the show is Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite, whose “Borderlands” includes a roomful of small, explosive sketches of scenes from an enhanced version of the artist’s hometown, wild, wall-sized acrylic paintings choked with Mexican signifiers and pregnant with foreboding and whispers of violence, and a vibrant wraparound favela sketched all over the surfaces of a large room.
December is right around the corner and we’re happy to say Miami Art Week is back in grand fashion. This year’s Untitled Art Fair will be in keeping with the festive mood, too. The 10th edition of the event will also be the biggest it’s ever been, with over 145 international galleries exhibiting and a new section, Nest, which will aim to support emerging galleries, collectives, and non-profits. But there’s more. This year, Untitled has also tapped four powerhouse guest curators to create special themed shows within the fair: Natasha Becker, Miguel A. López, Estrellita Brodsky, and José Falconi.
Perhaps no artist of this year’s winners so starkly conveys the binational experience on both sides of the border quite like Hugo Crosthwaite. Blending fantastical elements and intimate portraiture, his drawings seem otherworldly, yet remain grounded in real-life issues. His work has been collected by everyone from the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego to National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.
The four winners of the annual prize will collectively show off their latest works, which range from street-style pop-surrealism (PANCA) and Turkish-style ceramics (Beliz Iristay), to black-and-white drawings (Hugo Crosthwaite) and subversive paintings (Perry Vásquez). There will be an artist reception on Oct. 9 from 5 to 8 p.m.
For this iteration of the exhibition, which debuted at the National Portrait Gallery in 2019, artists were invited to respond to current social and political contexts. First Prize was awarded to Hugo Crosthwaite for his “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez” (2018), a stop-motion drawing animation that recounts a young woman’s journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States.
As a child, artist Hugo Crosthwaite spent a lot of time hanging out in his father's curio shop in Rosarito, Mexico. It was there that the seeds were planted for his particular approach to art. "That's where I learned English, by just interacting with American tourists," Crosthwaite said. "I would tell them stories about a little ceramic idol and I would make up stories about 'Oh, this is Tlaloc, the god of rain.' It wasn't."
A conversation with a deported Mexican immigrant he met on the streets of Tijuana became a stop-motion animation art piece that won artist Hugo Crosthwaite first prize in “The Outwin: American Portraiture,” a Smithsonian exhibition featured at the Springfield Museums.
Works from the triennial’s fifth edition, including Crosthwaite’s stop-motion drawing animation, “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez,” can still be viewed online at portraitcompetition.si.edu. The Outwin 2019 will also travel to the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield Museums, Massachusettes (October 3, 2020–April 4, 2021) and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. (September 10, 2020–January 23, 2022).
“The art produced by Mexican and Mexican American artists in the U.S. has a long history that continues to reverberate–this echo is a dynamic and necessary narrative that expands traditional interpretations of American art,” said Amy Galpin, Chief Curator at the museum. Artist Hugo Crosthwaite, whose paintings are featured in the exhibit, was born in Tijuana, Mexico and the cultural aesthetics are influenced with his crossing of the border between Mexico and the United States. The subject matter he paints is inspired by the novel A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande.
Greetings from the timeless void of quarantine, where we all feel like astronauts who have been in space just a little too long. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your essential guide to all things arts — and operatic krumping. On Instagram, I’ve been very much enjoying Hugo Crosthwaite’s stop motion animations of his quarantine drawings.
Hugo Crosthwaite, the 2019 first place winner was recognized for a stop-motion animated drawing. “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez” (2018) depicts a young woman from Tijuana and explores her pursuit of the American dream. The animated video project is part of a series based on oral histories Crosthwaite has gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Every three years, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery showcases finalists of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, named for a late benefactor. A total of 46 works are on display from the latest edition, selected last year by a panel of jurors from more than 2,600 submissions, all from American artists who were instructed to respond “to the current political and social context.” Hugo Crosthwaite’s A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez, a three-minute video of stop-motion animation, took First Prize.
Hugo Crosthwaite's La Güera, 2018, is featured in the "Readings" section of Harper's Magazine in print in January 2020.
...The selection includes far more photographs and videos than paintings and drawings, although some entries blur those categories. The top prize went to Hugo Crosthwaite for a series of black-and-white drawings, animated into a video, of Berenice Sarmiento Chavez. She is a young Mexican woman who ventured north across the border in search of the American Dream, but has since been deported. The artist encountered her in Tijuana. As winner of the top prize, Crosthwaite will be commissioned to do an official portrait. The 2016 winner, Amy Sherald, made a painting of Michelle Obama that became one of the gallery’s most popular attractions.
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., named Hugo Crosthwaite the 2019 winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, an astute selection for several reasons. Crosthwaite’s entry, a meditative, three-minute stop-motion animation about a woman migrating from Mexico to the United States, stretched the conventional bounds of portraiture and affirmed the genre’s relevance, both of which are aims of the prize. Over nearly two decades, Crosthwaite has applied portraiture’s concentrated attention not only to individuals but even more avidly to place.
The title of this year’s winning work, by Hugo Crosthwaite, tells us the name of the person represented in the artist’s three-minute stop-motion animation of black-and-white drawings. It is A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez, a young woman from Tijuana, Mexico, who is seeking a better life in the United States. Her face emerges from a blank space, like a piece of paper or canvas, and then we watch as her body is sketched in, as though she’s materialized from nothing. In a series of brief vignettes, we learn about the danger that she, like other migrants, has faced, including violence and sexual harassment.
The new exhibition at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles by Mexican-American artist Hugo Crosthwaite (b. 1971) grabs your attention the moment you walk into the gallery. The artist, who lives and works in San Diego and Rosarito, Mexico, created a monumental, 27-foot wide multi-panel work called Death March. Multiple human figures and skeletons compose a funeral march, appearing to honor the deceased in a manner that calls to mind Día de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.
For painter and video artist Hugo Crosthwaite, life has unfolded in equal parts on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and he has come to understand that in a way the border region itself is its own nation, with a unique culture that is both blended and divided, and a population comfortable with dualities. Both his films and graphite and ink drawings on canvas—often at monumental scale—exist in a black-and-white palette and are rich with regal, stylized detail.
The painter is showing a new series of drawings, panel paintings and animations that chart the ebb and flow of humanity, along with unseen magical phenomena, in the U.S.-Mexico-border region where he lives and works. (The artist divides his time between Rosarito and San Diego.) Crosthwaite, a painter whose work is as influenced by comic books as it is by Gustav Doré, recentlywon the top prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwi Boocheyer Portrait Competion, pays tributes to Goya’s Caprichos. A recent series capturing grotesqueries and folly.
The video begins with the sound of a guitar strumming and a voice singing in Spanish. The main character is sketched quickly, beginning with her eyes, then face, hair and shoulders. She gazes into the distance. Over the course of the three-minute stop-motion drawing animation video, we watch as the main character goes about her life, immigrating to the United States and trying to succeed in her new country.
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, has announced the winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, a triannual contest honoring artists that “challenge the definition of portraiture.” Hugo Crosthwaite, a San Diego-based artist, will take home the $25,000 prize, which also comes with a commission to create a new portrait for the museum’s permanent collection.Crosthwaite follows in the footsteps of now-veritable art star Amy Sherald, who won the last Boochever award in 2016.
Portraiture is due for a reframing. Although the art form has traditionally served to memorialize the affluent and the powerful, the finalists of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition point to a future where portraits empower the disenfranchised. The triennial competition, founded in 2006 by an endowment from the late Virginia Outwin Boochever, calls for artists to “challenge the definition of portraiture.” First-prize winner Hugo Crosthwaite does just that. His 2018 stop-motion animation, A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez, illustrates one woman’s journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced that artist Hugo Crosthwaite has been named the first-prize winner of the fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which aims to reflect the contemporary state of portraiture in the United States. Recognized for his stop-motion drawing animation A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez, 2018, Crosthwaite is the first Latinx artist to receive the $25,000 award since the national competition was founded in 2006. Following in the footsteps of Amy Sherald, the previous winner of the prize, the San Diego–based artist will receive a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the National Gallery’s collection.
Public art is the icing on the cake in the transformation of Liberty Station from a formal, staid Navy training center into a vibrant entertainment, shopping and arts destination. This year, six artists participated in Installations at the Station, the NTC Foundation’s public art program, which will continue next year. This year’s projects included community-painted skateboards representing a wave and a ship on a rooftop, a braided rope bench inspired by the native tribes and the Navy and murals of border scenes by Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite as part of an ongoing narrative in multiple locations that started in 2009.
Danica Phelps draws with uncommon grace. Her line moves with liquid ease, following the momentum of time. It describes what happens in her life, and it also makes things happen. As her beautifually affirming show at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles attests, her line has agency.
Hugo Crosthwaite's small drawings line the front gallery's walls at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. A jig saw puzzle of catholic school girls, nudies, saints, tattoos, and ghosts fill the pieces that are excerpts of life in Tijuana. Many of the scenes are positioned like movie stills, a young girl could be walking off of a surreal set, or she's unwittingly walked into another dimension. It's cartoonish and seedy, and the spaces where people linger could be the backside of a carnival.
Though physically immersive, the installation is, paradoxically, less viscerally compelling than the small, discrete works, but still plenty invigorating. Throughout Crosthwaite's work, lust and violence are tempered by grace; tradition embraces surprise. Acts of witness marry feats of imagination, and a crazy equilibrium makes it all hang together.
Throughout the exhibition, Crosthwaite’s work proves haunting or political, cartoonish or literal, showing the depth of his ability and classical training. At times, it feels as if these are bad dreams made real, with surreal moments interspersed amongst more realistic ones. In “Twins,” Crosthwaite explores the inherent censorship and loss of freedom following 9/11 by depicting a man’s fist in the mouth of another in the foreground of the New York skyline.
“Brutal Beauty,” the title of the museum show, captures well the tight conflation of tough and tender in Crosthwaite’s work. An element of violence threads through it, whether in the bruised bodies and flayed skin in Bartolomé (2004), or the guns within reach of the protagonists in A Tail for Two Cities, a large drawing completed on site at the museum, pitting characters representing Tijuana and San Diego in threatening but slightly comical confrontation. As an observer of people and his native city, Crosthwaite seems almost devotional. He doesn’t glamorize or idealize either, but reveres their humble familiarity, their vitality and authenticity. In many of the drawings, Tijuana appears as a cluttered sprawl of rooftops, electrical wires, billboards and other signage, its inhabitants thick-bodied and plain-faced.
Hugo Crosthwaite’s La Cola de dos Ciudades, (A Tale of Two Cities), (2010), and Bartolomé, (2004), are the dominant works of “Brutal Beauty,” his current show at SDMA. La Cola de dos Ciudades, inspired by Crosthwaite’s birthplace Tijuana, highlights conflict between Tijuana and San Diego. Dickens’ famous novel A Tale of Two Cities, Goya’s Duel with Cudgels and Kahlo’s The Two Fridas provided source material. The drawing features two anguished males depicted in a graphic/Pop Art style influenced by Crosthwaite’s recent years in New York and DC comics. Crosthwaite is a superb draftsman, and the fact that he created this work in three weeks in front of an audience is a feat.
One of the images that stuck to me as I started drawing yesterday, I just did a face, it came into my head an image of Goya's black paintings – there's this painting of these two figures, these two brothers, clubbing each other to death and their sinking. And I thought that could be the image that I'm doing here, two figures having a narrative, there's this duality to them, they're either reconciling or in conflict.
Hugo Crosthwaite’s three graphite drawings fuse character and cartoon, idiosyncratic identity and flat graphic energy. In one of the intriguing snapshots, a man lightly fingers a frog; in another, a half-naked woman in character-cluttered undershorts glances back at us as she inks a large tattoo.
Crosthwaite's world of violence, poverty, furtive sex and tedium gathers power from the tension between the gritty vision and the beauty and grace of his draftsmanship. His sure line, the subtlety of light and shade and finely rendered details create a sense of reality so vivid you forget that it is in black and white.