Brutal Beauty
Drawings by Hugo Crosthwaite
27 February - 18 July 2010
San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA

A Tail for Two Cities: Part I (10:01)    Part II (9:22)
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Born in Tijuana, Mexico in 1971, Hugo Crosthwaite spent his childhood in nearby Rosarito. At a young age, he taught himself to draw after studying the black and white reproductions in books owned by his father such as The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. This formative experience led to a fascination with black and white compositions.

Crosthwaite received a B.A. in 1997 from San Diego State University. Though Crosthwaite currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, the influence of the Mexico-California border region lingers in his work. Filled with diverse and hybrid cultures, his work represents a synthesis of the art historical canon and contemporary human experience. He explores the immediacy of drawing, while simultaneously demonstrating a keen eye for detail. While Crosthwaite has depicted cityscapes of Tijuana through numerous drawings, this exhibition focuses on his rendering of the figure. Working primarily with charcoal and graphite, he melds the fragility of humanity with through references to popular culture, daily life, and recent history such as the events of September 11 and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. His figures exude a brutal beauty: they are as awe-inspiring for their physical forms as they are for their dramatic sensibilities that suggest baroque, surreal, and film noir influences.

This exhibition is a testament to the powerful work being created by Crosthwaite, an artist with local origins. During the course of the exhibition Crosthwaite will create a new work that will complete this installation and will become a part of the Museum's permanent collection.

- Curated by Amy Galpin, Project Curator for American Art

Hugo Crosthwaite | Brutal Beauty, San Diego Museum of Art
Twins, 2007
graphite and charcoal on canvas
72 x 72 inches

Twins relates a common theme found in Crosthwaite's works of duality or more specifically the presentation of pairings that share literal and symbolic qualities. The smaller building in the background represents Crosthwaite's apartment building in Brooklyn, while the building adorned with graffiti symbolizes the view that the artist sees from his apartment window. With one figure's fist submerged in the mouth of another figure, Crosthwaite references the censorship that permeates society, particularly during a time of war. The white space in this work suggests the open spaces in the skyline of Manhattan following the loss of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The two lights that hang over the space also refer to the Towers and emphasize the duality of the image. This white space represents one of the artist's first depictions of negative space, a concept that continues to evolve in his work as he explores the deconstruction of his images.