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Hugo Crosthwaite

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.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #1, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #1, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #2, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #2, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #3, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #3, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #4, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #4, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #5, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #5, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #6, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #6, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #7, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #7, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #8, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #8, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #9, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #9, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #10, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #10, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #11, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #11, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #12, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #12, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #13, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #13, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #14, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #14, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #15, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #15, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Hugo Crosthwaite Tijuanerias, #16, 2011

Hugo Crosthwaite
Tijuanerias, #16, 2011
Ink, ink wash, graphite, and correction fluid on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 in.

Tijuanerias simply refers to anything having to do with the city of Tijuana. This exhibition is a series of 102 ink and wash drawings along with an installation environment. It is Crosthwaite's interpretation of Tijuana's Leyenda Negra or "Black Legend."  Since the 1920s, Tijuana has been marked as a symbol of perversion and vice, a stigma that continues to define the violence and social upheaval of this border city. 

Tijuanerias depicts dark figures in dark places, madmen, prostitutes, drug violence, murder – the power and the excess of narco wealth. Mixed with these foibles and idiosyncrasies are people that appear to be always in transition, crossing or waiting to cross a socio-political and economic border to perceived “greener pastures.” These drawings are my satirical fantasies: Tijuana as a place of purgatory. Horribly real, humorously weird and often bizarre, there is a complicity and an acceptance that one can grow accustomed to anything as long as there is a deal to make and money to be made. 

Tijuanerias pays homage to Goya's "Caprichos" with its depiction of grotesque figures and themes done in an informal, sketch-like style. Crosthwaite's work describes an existing dichotomy in Tijuana. A place of fetishes, cartoons, and graffiti scribbles alongside a threatening and deeply ingrained rationality governed by money, political interest and empty gestures of civility.

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