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There Has Been A Lot of Buzz Around Hugo McCloud

All / Reporting / Reviews / February 23, 2015

There has been a lot of buzz around Hugo McCloud.  He has been written about in the New York Times, W Magazine, GQ, and more.  His current exhibition Palindrome will be on view at Sean Kelly gallery (475 Tenth Avenue, NYC) until March 14th; go see it now if you haven’t made the pilgrimage already.

What I liked

McCloud has an amazing process. You can see the layers and appreciate the amount of work that went into the each piece.  I am a sucker for ample layer, texture, effort, and size in mixed media painting.  You can smell the tar and oil paint when you visit the gallery.  On purpose or not, I appreciated having all of my senses hit.

Here is what his gallery, Sean Kelly, had to say about the process behind the work: “McCloud works on tarpaper instead of canvas, enveloping it in layers of liquid tar, foil and aluminum roof coating. The surfaces are prepared on the floor, torched, painted, hammered and stamped[.]” Impressive, right?

Also, he’s cute. Real cute. Yeah, I said it… It’s almost comical that a lot of publications are leaving this tid bit out. There are more pictures of McCloud online than you will find of most young painter/sculptors and the number of friends who have asked me if he is single is staggering. (Sidebar: I do not know McCloud personally, but I hear he is single, so HAVE AT ‘EM LADIES!) He is understandably desirable; McCloud is part owner of the ultra hip, AP coffee shop in BK (visit if you haven’t already), gives good face, has tattooed muscles, and is touting the “self taught artist with a blow torch” label. That is all PR gold.

That said the “cuteness” wouldn’t matter if the work was horrible. And it is good. In fact it may be great.  It is hard to make a strong abstract all black painting, but Hugo can. The ins and outs of the gloss black, matte black, metal black, etc are all made mesmerizing. These paintings are not very photogenic but whatever, can’t have it all. Plus, many of his older works are.(see last photo above)

NOW, FOR THE PART NO ONE WANTS TO SAY…

What I didn’t like

The show is boring. The painting upstairs all hit one note and the paintings downstairs all hit another note. The works are placed too close together and there should be a pinch more variety. So in simple terms upstairs is silver and down stairs is black.

For selling, this is great. If one wants to buy a black highly textured abstract Hugo McCloud painting the gallery has many available, but not too many, so the market won’t flood. These works will all look good in almost any chic home, office, store, or hotel. This will meet demand.  Want a silver McCloud? Same deal applies. If one wants to see an interesting show. This does not satisfy the pallet.

Lastly, when looking at paintings, something that was often said when I was in grad school is always in the back of my mind: “If you want to make your painting more appealing: make it big, add red, layer one color.” Mr. McCloud does all of the a fore mentioned tasks, so I cannot help but be aware that some easy tricks are happening here.

The work is undoubtedly well done. Plus, some of the most beautiful artist fashion and music folk in the city will be at his next opening, as they were at the last. Don’t miss out on the good times.


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Ayana Evans
Ayana Evans
Editor-at-Large, Cultbytes Performance artist, speaker, educator, and writer. My art explores the intricacies of my life; as an individual and as a social being who is: a woman, a Black American woman, a light skin Black American woman, a light skin black American woman from Chicago, blah blah blah. You get the idea. I'm an artist. (period) Conceptual-ish is my "thing." l igram l twitter l contact l #operationcatsuit #ijustcameheretofindahusband




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