Made of a sheet of bronze distressed with chemicals and a blowtorch, *Dividing Lines*, 2017, is part of his “Metal Paintings” series.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

How Artist Hugo McCloud Is Taking Metal to New Heights

The artist will debut new metal paintings at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects in July
Bay Area–born artist Hugo McCloud in his Brooklyn studio. Photo: Matt Buchwach; Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York

Although crafted out of quotidian materials such as tar paper, plastic, wood, and wrought metal, Hugo McCloud’s lustrous paintings are anything but rough-hewn.

His surfaces glisten with soft patinas and frost-like foil layered with washes of rich color, often basic house paint applied by spray gun.

“Because my work is labor-intensive and uses everyday materials, I spend a lot of time considering the social economics behind how our culture assesses value,” says the Bay Area–born Brooklyn artist, who often takes images abstracted from art-historical references and couture spreads and stamps or veils them with paint or aluminum leaf.

Made of a sheet of bronze distressed with chemicals and a blowtorch, Dividing Lines, 2017, is part of his “Metal Paintings” series. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

McCloud has been prolific since his big break in 2012. He’s had solo shows at Turin’s Luce Gallery and nearly annual exhibitions at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, the last of which saw him transform an entire warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, into a temporary gallery outpost during the Armory Show, the large contemporary art fair held in New York each March. There, the artist debuted his latest “Metal Paintings,” soldered bronze panels treated with chemicals and toned with a blowtorch to create darkly luminous striations.

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His career is only gaining steam. High-profile collectors such as that of real estate mogul Martin Margulies and Pamela Joyner—a connoisseur of “Afropolitan abstraction”—have added McCloud to their holdings.

Hugo McCloud, Watered Down, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
Hugo McCloud, Single Moments, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

McCloud is bringing brighter, more vibrant iterations of his metal paintings to his first show with Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, opening July 21.

“I’m playing with more color and manipulations of patina,” he says. “There’s a sense of the unknown in the work that I still want to explore, a new way of bringing beauty to light.”

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2018 Summer Issue under the headline Seeking Beauty. Subscribe to the magazine.

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