Hugo McCloud | Meet The Self Taught Artist Whose Painting With Plastic
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Hugo McCloud | Meet The Self Taught Artist Whose Painting With Plastic

May 20, 2022 Share

Sean Kelly Gallery is proud to present a host of extraordinary players in the field – one, in particular, being prolific artist Hugo McCloud. Find his work hanging in Stand B18 at The Shed for Frieze New York 2022.

New York’s Sean Kelly is delighted to return to Frieze this year with a compelling presentation of works highlighting artists whose works examine themes of abstraction and the use of repetition as an aesthetic device. One artist displaying in Stand B18 this year under the watchful eye of the gallery is self-taught artist Hugo McCloud.

With the ongoing 2022 Art Frieze, New York event at The Shed in Manhattan from May 18 – 22, millions of people worldwide have already touched base with what New York has to offer. The event attracts people from around the world and brings art lovers together for a showcase of a lifetime.

Hugo McCloud
Portrait of Hugo McCloud by Enrique Leyva.

Intended to spotlight the top artists of the time and act as a driving force in supporting the role galleries play in nurturing artists’ careers, the annual event attracts art perusers and professionals alike. On the other hand, Hugo McCloud stands out from his fellow artistic companions like never before – you see, this American multimedia visual artist is pushing the boundaries of how materials are used.

“We have been working with Hugo for over eight years now; it has been exciting to see how his artistic practice has grown and evolved from his early tar paintings to his metal works and most recently with his plastic paintings.” – Lauren Kelly, Partner and Director, Sean Kelly Gallery.

When first locking eyes with his work, it’s hard to believe that this talented 42-year-old never went to school to master the fine line. With no background in colour theory, McCloud turned to subjects that were unseen, unheard and often forgotten. Born in Palo Alto, California, McCloud grew up in a very artistic family. With a mother in floristry and inter-design and a father sculpting masterpieces, he came easy to fall into the creative world.

However, “when it came to the point of just focussing on the fine art, I knew I needed to relocate to New York City,” says McCloud. 

McCloud’s work has quickly evolved like a snowball effect in a career that has now spanned fifteen years. He claims that with restless experimentation and pure inventiveness, his artwork has developed into a unifying theme of finding beauty in the everyday.

Hugo McCloud
Stylist/Creative director: Rebekka Fellah. Photographer: Enrique Leyva
May 5th 2022, 2022 single-use plastic mounted on panel 40 x 32 inches (101.6 x 81.3 cm) each framed: 41 1/2 x 33 1/2 inches (105.4 x 85.1 cm) each. © Hugo McCloud Photo: JSP Art Photography. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

During McCloud’s travel encounters, he gravitated toward materials that could be considered abject – roofing materials, solder, and presently, single-use plastic bags. Drawing inspiration from the rawness of the urban landscape, he would previously fashion plastic strips into grid patterns. 

“His work has always incorporated often overlooked materials, with his recent work directly addressing the economics of labour, geopolitics, and the environmental impact of these materials.– Lauren Kelly

But over time, his most famous pieces grew into “figurative compositions”, using these materials to depict refugees, migrants, and labourers.

To create the collages, which mainly depict labour scenes, “McCloud first traces them onto a wood panel before filling them with multicoloured plastic scraps,” as described by Dezeen, “these are then individually cut from plastic bags, layered on top of each other, like individual brush strokes, before being fused with an iron.”

Sean Kelly at Frieze New York 2022. May 19 – 22, 2022, The Shed, Stand B18. Photography: JSP Art Photography. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

His pieces draw attention to the divisions between man and the environment and our impact on the natural world. However, his work hanging up in Frieze New York is different from his usual theme. Instead, a four-piece aesthetic awaits.

On his online portfolio, it states that Hugo McCloud has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, London, Turin, Seol and Singapore with collections in the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the Nasher Museum of Art.

So make sure to head over to The Shed in New York to get a chance to witness the fun, creative and exciting booth with Sean Kelly. 

“As an artist whose work is continually evolving, I am very much looking forward to what he will show us next.” – Lauren Kelly

Sean Kelly at Frieze New York 2022. May 19 – 22, 2022, The Shed, Stand B18. Photography: JSP Art Photography. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York
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Author: Michelle Laver
Art Frieze
Art Frieze New York
Hugo McCloud
Sean Kelly Gallery
The Shed