A Conversation With Hugo McCloud

A Conversation With Hugo McCloud

A native Californian and adopted New Yorker, Hugo McCloud is a self-taught, multimedia artist inspired by urban landscapes and decay. McCloud, who has been featured in solo exhibitions in New York, Italy, and London, works largely in metals, and applies a “physical and instinctual” approach to his work. The 10,000 recently caught up with the artist about his background, his inspirations, and his latest project–Metal Paintings, an exhibition in collaboration with the Sean Kelly gallery located in an old factory. The invitation-only opening event featured a ‘happening’ where guests could see the creative process (think sanding, hammering, torching) behind McCloud’s work in an unfinished space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Metal Paintings will be open to the public at 420b Troutman Street from March 9 – 11 and 17 – 18.

You were trained as an industrial designer before you ventured into the fine art world. What initially attracted you to industrial design and how did you begin producing art?

Well, I trained myself in design and fabrication. Mostly furniture and architectural fabrication elements. Many of my family members are designers, architects or artists. I came into the desire to make art to get away from barriers that design holds one to.

Do you think having a design background results in a different approach to your art?

Anything that one is trained in affects the results of something you are then focused in. Making abstract art is interesting when you also understand constraints.

Your work often features overlooked or previously used materials, specifically metal. What attracts you to these materials and how do you source them?

I’m attracted to materials that can be manipulated and what I like to call “forgiving”- I am able to be free with these materials in how I handle them.

You’ve been an artist in residence in Manila and had exhibitions in Singapore, Italy, and LA. How does travel inspire your art?

It’s very interesting to see how things are done in different countries and as well in different social classes. Creativity is spawned from lack – when I travel I see how people have created new ways to do the same things that are done where I live.

What other forms of art inspire you? Do you listen to music while you work or research/plan?

I am always listening to music- and when it comes to music I am all over the place. At the same time I typically listen to music that has a continuous beat or rhythm – in a sense a meditation.

Last night you had an opening for your exhibition Metal Paintings with the Sean Kelly BK gallery in Bushwick that lets visitors into your fabrication process. Can you tell us more about how that project came together?

My first body of work when I started making art was with the scrap metal from my design projects- now coming back to this body of work I’m able to approach it with new understanding. The exhibition came about because I thought it would be interesting to bring a visual and tangible understanding about where the work originated from. So the exhibition  is in an old welding and steel factory.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists and designers?

Dedicate yourself- understand that consistency and time develop outcomes.


© Hugo McCloud Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

Related Stories