A Malicious Magritte

By Ricardo Pohlenz

Hugo Lugo fools you from the canvas. The painting itself becomes an excuse for the story. That is so, not for how it is painted, but-and largely- by what is depicted. From overcome sentimental themes and tropes, Hugo makes a dent in the right spot, where his flagrant abuse of some sentimental manierisms hits between kitsch and reinterpretation. Could it be? Balloons, toys and boxes disproportionately located serve as the stage for his human figures, almost Magritte in his contrasts and yet so close to an easy lyric of the ridiculous. Nonetheless, it’s a rigorist we’re dealing with here, given to details so ridiculous that it is disturbing. Hugo Lugo makes a representation of eschatological sentimentalism, with some of that disused vocation held by a beauty ideal, agreed as a minor art and inherited as popular craft, limited in scope (offered as an ethical representation). The licenses he takes for the pretty imply a disdain, a certain violence in their transposition of values. Ornament in that it is not, that does not even pretend it, pretended painter for socials, and yet, social painter. As If what Hugo Lugo paints were cute, but not.

What he paints supposes the representation of an edge of things, a tense chasm in its rites, denied with the discretion had in a known lie. Is paper made confetti a metaphor for snow? The process of confetti is different from that of the suggested party. Once seen, the bizarre sequence of penetrations to the paper –so that it becomes confetti- is lost. Disintegrated the disintegration inherent to its process it’s snow; denied in its origin but not its illusion it’s a party. The document that survives the slaughter -a sheet of hole punched paper- is presented as a gesture for a starry sky.

Such a careful representation of objects implies a mockery. This exploitation terrain between the paper and the snow discovered by Hugo Lugo comes as a continuation of formal reviews taken from that idyllic-looking-inside had in his previous job. In his Objeto de Reemplazo (Object of Replacement), given the disparity, portrays the back a diminutive viewer wearing jeans and a red jacket armed with an axe that contemplates a mural-scale decorative plate. The fascination with the object may lead to destruction or maybe, to be seduced and drop the axe. Taught by Warner, we don’t know what he will do, he does not tell us that story, that anagnorisis that goes beyond the object itself. As this dish, so many dishes, on the edge of the utility, he insists, a little slyly, on values and assumptions. The provocation is practically refuted by its own way: that which makes it a formal trick, subversion made ornament, domesticated, if you will, or put in a cage for display.

The formal territory Hugo Lugo is elusive, almost. His figures cast a shadow despite not having a place, beyond the colors determining their contexts. Does not hold, or almost hangs it, as the ideal setting for an exhibition, in which its figures are bared beyond their correlations, happily isolated as abuse and display of technique and style that appeals to the rigors relegated to a minor art (a nod to the soul, after all) from which suggests an ethic lost forever, a promise unfulfilled. Such is the pride of his care (his effort) that I no longer know if it’s depicted either with candor or irony by that cute limbo: much of its grace lies there. Hugo Lugo’s world is well-dressed (and well lit), has no beyond, and detail (because detail exists) is presented with a rhetoric of post-Romantic showcasing prone to lapses.

It is paper the subject of recent topographical research by Hugo Lugo. The role of feeling, the feeling of paper, a new metaphor denied. The paper, intimate setting of a childhood in project, remains of dreams and conclusions, where everything is folded and displayed with folded magnificence. A place where clichés are overused, paper, ruled from origin, given to writing, to drawing, to a stated damage of its reputation in the immaculate invitation of its first nature. The unsigned paper is nothing, says nothing. A simple fold in half turns it into message; by crumpling it up it becomes an abortion. Made into airplanes, converted into missiles thrown in a diptych between man and woman who, given their conventions exhibits an inferred sentence stating that all seduction is invasion.

Folded as a boat, shows up to be boarded by a salesman with a suitcase (the stylized version of the box core motif of Hugo Lugo-but more portable (with handle) and a matching umbrella (though it’s not raining on the canvas). Drawn landscape becomes possible landscape for the figure (painted on the picture painted in the landscape). Display that boasts -even if only a gesture- of an emotion that arises from the bohemian spleen, always a paradox at close range. In the loves-you-because-mistreats you- everything is invocation, is catalog, licensing, mock: representation of the world as one would like.

Hugo is a malicious Magritte. Magritte offers the alternative world, the dream. Lugo decants it, exposes its weaknesses and exploits it sparingly. He says it, and then says “not true”. Paradox and exhibitionism of a gift, in the fold is the picture to be revealed, it is in the paper where they live, as spirits imprisoned for something more, its figures. A wizard without further represented in the sheet of a notebook (the format is the literal notebook paper). Wearing a green sweater, left naked and without merit. You know he is a magician because that is what the title says. The character is too lost in what he does to know whether he does for an audience or to himself.

Among figures disjointed of any context (other than the lined paper from where they were represented, as an essential leisure) and the paper folded and unfolded one can sense freedom as a lost world in the conventions held for tale illustrations. The secret is in every fold of the folded paper, or not even. The need for meaning is causing the making sense of the folds. Not knowing anything about the figures, covered only with their gestures and actions, gives them a practically gratuitous power; they are everything because they are nothing.

It is in that easiness that the romantic vein always stumbles (as in a bar, when it’s time to please the audience). It can be presumed as baroqueism, Hugo Lugo boasts an obsession given to the loss of reach, he laughs but almost, a bit from the sidelines but almost beyond, peering over. It is with the almost with which one always falls.

No Rain in the North
No Rain in the North, 2007

Noise Therapy
Noise Therapy, 2007

Weak Landscape
Weak Landscape, 2007

Projectile, 2007