Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Hugo McCloud


Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld Gallery New York

Hugo McCloud | Put in Place | Till June 7

Press Release

Through intense research in the workshop and the use of industrial materials like bitumen, aluminium sheet and oxidized steel plates, Hugo McCloud makes his works as if they were the framework of a modular construction. Assembling constituent forms that are extremely distant from the tradition of painting, in the classical sense, the research focuses on craftsmanship in creative intervention, and the sometimes arduous physical nature of the work, which engages the artist in the study of the material and its well-gauged grafting into the area of the work.

This approach lies in the experience of life and, first of all, in the voyages that are an important part of McCloud’s development, during which he has learned about different techniques originating in countries like India or South Africa, in an ongoing attempt to provide an unprecedented and timely reinterpretation of that semiotic vision time has been able to nurture in certain traditions extraneous to the Occident. It is in the combination of openness to the “other than self” and the filter of the American vantage point, through which the artist has always observed the world, that the work of McCloud arises, also drawing inspiration from the streets, in the midst of the urban refuse where he often finds abandoned metals or mattresses, from which he takes the images of his patterns sculpted in blocks of wood.


McCloud is self-taught, and concentrates on a kind of aesthetic refinement proudly detached from academic influences, specifically engaged with the cognitive potential of manipulation. The result is a compositional logic close to that of the “mosaic,” inserted in turn inside a vertical construction, the additive sum of each single part.

The artist, in his alchemical approach, alters the nature of materials, sublimating them in completed works. His practice questions the limits of the medium, joining components in a single imaginary that would otherwise have been demolished, or would have lived out the destiny shared by all things to become refuse. The work also incorporates the process of oxidation that corrodes, contaminates and transforms.

The resources for the work are found in bolts, panels, metal plates or gratings usually used in construction. All items used by McCloud to stimulate a materic fusion that shapes the object on the basis of the original idea, without ever overlooking their intrinsic properties; as in a voyage of human evolution that happens inside the limits of the cyclical rules of nature.

McCloud’s works often reflect the same theme in a pattern of repetitions, altered by a single imprint, done by means of manual pressure. The dynamism of the encounter of the different surface finishes betrays a timid reference to design, though in a more complex key, mingled with the fundamental principles of Arte Povera, viewed by the artist in a very particular way, far from any hypothesis of direct derivation.

While McCloud often expresses himself by composing monochromatic surfaces interrupted by certain distinctive tones, almost as if to establish a dialogue of perspective between multiple levels of reference, in other works he puts the accent on gesture, conveyed through the heat of the flame of the blow torch, which adds a new imprint to the material, altering its contours and shadings.


The artist intervenes in his creations in full awareness of the fact that he has only partial control over the final results, stemming from an incessant and never truly concluded dialectic between subject and object, observer and observed. To use the words of McCloud himself, from a recent interview: “Every time, I try to test the limits of manipulation of materials. And when I have found the answers to my questions, new questions arise…”

Contrarily to the classic painting where the artist add to the base pictorial substance to exalt the forms, in Muted Noise Hugo McCloud witness the wish to cover the colour adding proper elements like metallic foils, as to keep silent the source from which it is born the colour, but without darkening, rather exalting single parts that shine of proper light. Like is a eclipse, the light is covered allowing to glimpse the boarders of the same one, and single parts of colour assume even more vigor.

Hugo McCloud was born in Palo Alto, California in 1980, he lives and works in New York.

Recent shows are Pattern Recognition, MoCADA Museum, Brooklyn, New York; from The Mind of Mateo Mize, ArtNowNY, New York; Young Curators, New Idea IV, Beautiful Refuse: Materiality, Meulensteen Gallery, New York. In 2013 his works had been extensively reviewd in The Next Generation, Studio Museum in Harlem Magazine.



Hugo McCloud at the installation of his first solo show in New York.

Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times


May 28, 2014



AGE 34

HOMETOWN Redwood City, Calif.

NOW LIVES Bushwick, Brooklyn, in a transformed warehouse loft next door to AP Café, a minimalist coffee shop that he designed and co-owns.

CLAIM TO FAME Trained as an industrial designer, Mr. McCloud uses blowtorches, metal sheets, tar and other nontraditional materials to create experimental works that have caught the eye of the art establishment.

BIG BREAK In 2012, Mr. McCloud was part of the “Young Curators, New Ideas IV” group show at the now-defunct Meulensteen Gallery in Chelsea, and he showed works that year at Art Basel Miami Beach and last year at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn. This year, he held his first major solo exhibition at the Luce Gallery in Turin, Italy, and was featured in the gallery’s booth at the New Art Dealers Alliance fair in New York.

LATEST PROJECT He has his first solo show in New York, “Put in Place,” at the Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld gallery on the Upper East Side. In the series, he manipulates tar paper by covering it with liquid tar, adding aluminum foil and aluminum butane paint and pressing woodblock patterns into the surface. The process was influenced by the artist’s recent trip to India, where he studied traditional block-printing techniques. “I was really interested in the perfection in the imperfection, because it’s a hand-done process,” he said.

NEXT THING The prestigious Sean Kelly Gallery in New York will include his works in a group show in June. An avid traveler, Mr. McCloud will also spend July and August in Tulum, Mexico, studying regional carving. “I want to be in environments that are different and new so that I’m learning, and then what I learn is translated into my pieces,” he said.

ODD SOUVENIRS In India, Mr. McCloud became enamored with the brightly hued, plastic woven bags that construction workers use to transport concrete. He bought 200 of them. “The people from Customs probably thought I was crazy,” he said with a laugh, adding that his unusual travel souvenirs often provoke such responses from airport security. “It’s usually something that’s garbage in their eyes.”