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Over the past several months of self-isolation, Tijuana-based artist Hugo Crosthwaite has been making vibrant sketchbooks—melding fragments of border life, both real and imagined—and turning them into stop-motion videos in a series called “Dibujos de Cuarentena” (Quarantine Drawings).”
Crosthwaite’s “‘Tijuanarias’ series [above] pays homage to Goya’s ‘Caprichos’ with its depiction of grotesque figures and themes done in an informal, sketch-like style. My work describes an existing dichotomy in Tijuana. A place of fetishes, cartoons, comics and graffiti scribbles alongside a threatening and deeply ingrained rationality which is governed by money, political interest and empty gestures of civility.”
Hugo Crosthwaite was the First Prize recipient of the 2019 Outwin Boochever American Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. for his stop-motion animation portraying migrant Berenice Sariento Chávez.
“The triennial competition…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. ‘What’s fascinating about the portrait is that it’s not a static work of art,’ says Taína Caragol, co-curator of the exhibition. The animated portrait is composed of some 1,400 photos Crosthwaite took throughout his drawing process. Based on the story of a woman the artist met in his hometown of Tijuana, the work follows Chávez on her pursuit of the American dream. Caragol says the animation includes some moments that may feel dramatized, but symbolize the struggles Chávez encountered throughout her journey.” (Smithsonian)
“When she told me this story, it had a lot of fantastical elements, elements that you doubted if they were true,” Crosthwaite says. “But it didn’t matter because it was her story . . . We are defined by our stories. We present the story that we tell ourselves, or that we tell others, as our portrait.”
Crosthwaite’s most recent solo exhibition at Pierogi consisted of two of Crosthwaite’s “Tijuana Bibles” stop-animation videos, together with their respective books of original drawings, as well as new medium scale drawings on paper from his “Chingollywood” series. The installation comprised a screening room housing projections of the “Tijuana Bible” videos with its exterior walls covered with murals that Crosthwaite painted on site, and vitrines holding the original books of ink and wash drawings. “For my project I wanted to play with the notion of the Tijuana bible by creating my own book of hand drawn images as a kind of Sacred/Profane book. The narratives deal with issues of the border, immigration, narco culture, and idiosyncrasies of the city of Tijuana, playing with old stereotypes of how Americans see Mexico and Mexicans, especially with the current rhetoric from political figures…” (Crosthwaite)
Hugo Crosthwaite was born in Tijuana, Mexico in 1971 and grew up in the tourist-heavy beach town of Rosarito. He received his BA from San Diego State and currently lives and works between Tijuana, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. He was chosen to represent Mexico in the California-Pacific Triennial. Crosthwaite’s work has been included in numerous museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and Mexico, including: the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, “The New World,” for which he created a 42 foot mural titled “Guadalupana March”; The San Diego Museum of Art, “Behold, America!”; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, “The Very Large Array”; the Chicago Cultural Center, “Morbid Curiosity”’; a solo exhibition at The San Diego Museum of Art, “Brutal Beauty—Drawings by Hugo Crosthwaite,” for which he completed a monumental drawing, over a two-week period at the museum, entitled “A Tail for Two Cities”; “La Primera Bienal de Dibujo de las Americas” (First Biennial of Drawings in the Americas) Rafael Cauduro, Tijuana; and the VII Bienal Monterrey FEMSA de Pintura, Escultura e Instalación, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Crosthwaite’s work is included in the permanent collections of museums including: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL; Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), Tijuana, Mexico, and; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA.