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VIRTUAL VIEWING ROOM
ONSLAUGHT is a virtual exhibition of recent paintings by Hugo Bastidas. Born as reaction to the onslaught of wave after wave of struggle, from the pandemic to racial reform, these small works reflect the mood of the artist, and perhaps, the country and world.
Onslaught embodies the same tongue and cheek, irony and deadpan approach as the artist’s previous works, this time on a smaller, more intimate scale to provide respite from larger ongoing projects. We see Bastidas shift from his limited palette of black and white to include small pops of color in the majority of Onslaught. One such work, Everywhere (2019), shows a young girl blissfully skipping under the soft blue sky, until closer inspection reveals a surprising twist of ferocity. Another, Looking Through The Guise (2019), brings utter confusion and frustration as the viewer tries to process an ordinary scene through shattered glass. These paintings illustrate how quickly misperceptions can lead to bewilderment, fear and even hysteria.
Bastidas continues with his signature grisaille style in selected pieces from two recent ongoing projects, the Shadow Works and Stamp Works. The Shadow Works are the artist’s consideration of the present racial upheaval. Here Bastidas plays with new mediums, carefully combining watercolor and graphite to bring subtle tonal variations. The paintings depict soft shadows of our natural world on the pavement of various neighborhoods. Closer inspection reveals the shadows derive from weeds, yet they are as sublime and wonderful as any planted flower. What we have been led to believe and surrender our good judgment as undesirable, unneeded and problematic, is not. On the contrary, it is that which adds life to the paved, transformed, and transferred environment.
Each tiny painting in the Stamp Works capture a fleeting moment that has been undervalued, disregarded or given little attention. Portions of the peripheral backdrop acting as a “filler” are examined and carefully painted with efficient marks, shedding light on what would otherwise be overlooked.
In Onslaught, Bastidas takes us down a familiar path of flawless execution and style. The subtle differences in color and medium are a welcome change as he reflects on heavy topics dealing with the world’s current socio-uncertainties. He encourages us, as in life, not to simply peruse the work, but to study it, connect with it, and learn from it.
SHADOWS, DUMBO, 2020
H U G O B A S T I D A S
Hugo Bastidas is a painter born in Quito, Ecuador, where he lived until 1960, when he moved with his family to the United States. He received a B.F.A. from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ and M.F.A. from Hunter College in New York. He currently lives and works in New York and New Jersey.
His preferred medium, oil painting, is used as a tool of complex research and creation. Using black and white exclusively, he imitates the effect of grisaille with a precision that leads to graphic illusions, frequently resembling black and white photographs. Bastidas achieves a meticulous level of detail in his paintings, produced only by these two colors and their nuances, without needing support from other palettes.
His work focuses on distressing themes of our modern world: global warming, technology and progress affecting society and the environment. Even so, his grisaille paintings have elements of humor that remove some of the seriousness from the subject matter and present hope. Reality and fantasy coexist to form a connection between a real event or disaster and an imagined fiction.
In his compositions we see recurrent subjects that build a very personal and persuasive visual language, such as architecture, water, vegetation and even references to art history. Architecture serves as scenery for both real and fictional stages, sometimes used in reference to natural disasters, other times as a metaphor for human society. Water and nature portray those disasters providing interesting aesthetic effects, while art history subjects connect with world history.
Bastidas is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship as well as a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, among other awards. He has exhibited worldwide and is represented in the collection of numerous museums.
A V A I L A B L E C A T A L O G U E S
LOOKING THROUGH THE GUISE, 2019