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
Estudio de Anatomía, 1998
graphite and charcoal on wood panel
48 x 48 inches

Crosthwaite incorporates art historical references into many of his works, manipulating select ideas and images to create something of his own. It was at college as a student that he began to formally study art history for the first time. The artist explains, "I alternate between mythological subjects and contemporary ones, often combining the two. Francisco Goya, Eugene Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault, are among the many artists that have inspired my work." Crosthwaite aims to elevate drawing - particularly the use of graphite and charcoal - to the same level as painting, traditionally the highest regarded medium of two - dimensional artists and certainly the media most often associated with Goya, Delacroix, and Géricault. This particular work calls to mind Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulip, 1632 by the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 - 1669) and The Gross Clinic, 1875 by the American artist Thomas Eakins (1844 - 1916).