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My work presents an aesthetic and technique that relates to the stressed drama and turbulent emotions of the Romanticism of the mid-nineteenth century, but also attempts to explore the complexities of expression, as well as the multifaceted possibilities of seeing, which modern abstraction permits. It is an attempt at creating a personal vision, where the spontaneity and beauty of draftsmanship, which traces a naturalistic vision, mixes with historical, mythological and abstract concepts that give rise to contrast, and in doing so, challenge the subjectivity of an art that is purely conceptual.

My personal objective is that of creating a work that is beautiful—not necessarily a beauty that adheres to the strict Aristotelian parameters of aesthetics, but as an authentic personal attempt at expressing that which a mind considers beautiful after being victimized by the constant barrage of imagery in advertising and mass-produced media entertainment.

My art is influenced by the moralizing, narrative attempt of historical art movements such as the Pre-Raphaelites and Neoclassicism. I dedicate myself to executing a technique that is minute in detail. The truth in the depiction of the everyday and the ordinary maintains a delicate balance with the abstract of the subconscious and the romantic and often heroic aspects of that which is libidinous.

The absence of color in my work serves to keep a distance between the spectator and the struggle that takes place in a particular art piece. The art viewer is confronted with themes of conflict and violence, of religious fervor and ethereal visions, but there is no active participation in them. The flat two-dimensional format of a painting, the trompe-l'oeil illusionism of a classical draftsmanship no longer convince the modern viewer of the events that the artwork presents, thus contributing to a culture that caters to the needs of the "great spectator" whose real interests lie only in watching without real involvement and in judging without comprehending. It is drawing figures as abstract characters in automatic writing, that I depict a narrative personal to me and mysterious to the viewer.

My work consists mostly of large-scale pencil and charcoal drawings on wood panels that can range in size from four feet square to eight feet tall by 36 feet wide. One series of my drawings play with the contrast of figurative classical representation and the surrounding chaos and improvisation that depicts the city of Tijuana, Mexico where I was born. I am also interested in depicting human suffering and the representation of violence through a work that is not itself violent but looks for the expression of beauty. I feel my work identifies with the turbulent emotions of art movements such as the Symbolist and Romantic painters of the nineteenth century, attempting to explore the complexities of human expression from alienation to acceptance and even celebratory to its surroundings.

Lately, my drawings have departed from including the human figure and I have drawn empty cityscapes, suggesting the life of the city and its people inside the houses and buildings. My most recent work is a panoramic view of the border city of Tijuana, Mexico done on 2 feet high by 4 feet long wood panels. It is a drawing in progress where I keep adding panels to the image attempting to mimic a rapidly growing improvised city. I have been working on this piece since January 2003 and is now 40 feet long. This panoramic cityscape does not depict actual locations of Tijuana but presents a personal interpretation where the viewer is confronted with the feeling and look of the city. It represents the haphazard architecture and lack of urban planning that is characteristic of this border city, where the construction seems to form layers that resemble some sort of abstract urban sediment.

August 2004
Hugo Crosthwaite