Sketch of an artist

By Daniela Pérez

We tend to recognize sketches as preliminary projects that pose schematic features of studies for work that will later be materialized in “definite” art pieces. In the case of Hugo Lugo (Los Mochis, Sinaloa, 1974), the concept of sketch is used as the basis for the works that the artist is elaborating on the theme of representation. In them, Lugo uses the outline character of the sketch, as a mental effort to try to understand various conditions, situations, environments and ways of perceiving everyday objects found around us.

The amplified ruled notebook sheets that Lugo represents in several of his paintings and drawings are reminiscent of the spiral notepad which could serve as a hub to bring together many issues not entirely solved, but from which would be possible to set certain links between the pages. The observations recorded by Lugo however, are reflected not only on the two media mentioned above, he also takes his “sketches” to the field of photography and installation, where he once again highlights their apparent formal simplicity. Far from being interested in creating “precise” portraits of reality to repeat what has been said, Lugo focuses on producing unheard subtle scenarios. In his works, dislocation becomes one of the key tools for constructing meanings that reevaluate both certain expressive qualities of art, as well as man’s experiences in reaction to external environments that are to be confronted.

Through his work Lugo emphasizes different strategies for reflecting on the language of sketches, which facilitate to zoom in and out of the immediate world posed as reference. By using recognizable small details as sensitive clues for comprehension, it is common for spectators to assume some familiarity with the methods of encoding to which we are accustomed. However, in contrast, what Lugo leads us to is our own inquiry into the decoding of the common world as to recognize it again. The artist navigates freely in an open sea of possibilities and as spectators, we are situated on paths full of everyday elements that happen to become fantastic experiences, that take place in thought challenging environments and that inevitably turn us into participants of the same.

Taking into account the specific scenarios that the artist successfully develops, it is up to us to rethink questions such as: In what direction should one look when the house is on fire? In Sketch to Move (2008), as in an untitled photograph of the same year, we see characters that react in an unusual way as what is probably their house, burns down. In the first case, we see a barefoot man with a cup in hand looking in the opposite direction to that of the burning house, he even turns his back to it, while quietly admiring the natural landscape that is in front of him. In the second of these works, also immersed in a natural environment, a man using binoculars suggests to us that the least important part of the incident is found in what has been represented - we would have to see beyond. Thus, visualizing fragments of possible yet improbable narratives, like other works of Lugo, immersed in forests where a solitary figure with an undefined identity gets us off, one is forced to look for a second time to the suggestible surreal image. Sketch to Loose the Enemy (2007) leads to a different question along these lines: Who and where is the enemy? The scene depicted in this scene keeps away from what we might expect from a man standing only a few meters from a wild beast. With just a briefcase in hand, the character here is “hiding” of an enemy who by the way, is outside the field of view represented and appears to be “anyone” but the huge bear roaring just behind him.

In a recent work entitled Study to Anticipate Winter (2008), a sheet of paper on which we see the representation of a character with winter attire, takes on even greater complexity by suggesting that the circular holes on it (as if confetti), are presented as snow falling on the boy, who assumes a posture that responds to cold. Lugo not only transfers the objects of the sensible world into the art world but also appropriates the same elements that are inseparable from the labor of representation. This makes representation problematic and reiterates the fact that the sketch in its entirety is able to “transform” itself into the representation of an object. His works, referring to the very same gesture that make them, even allow to shape that which is not seen; an example of this is the barking of a dog that is fixed as a doodle in Sketch for a Howling (2008). Clearly, reality and representation influence one another, and the study of this is what Lugo delves into through his projects.

Constantly playing with the scales, Lugo looks -as it’s usually done with the help of a microscope- to the surface of the paper to instill doubt and question the mind of the creator and the viewer, those involved in the relationships and associations that are generated automatically from those paper notes. As part of the studies undertaken, it is worth noting the recurrent selection of content related -from a contemporary perspective- to traditional genres of painting including Landscape and Still Life. Sniper and Hunting with Dog (2006) also hint at the humor that often surrounds the work of this artist, taken as a sharp comment on how we tend to fall into our own games of representation. Both works assume the articulation of a language that carries some trace of trick, deception and/or lie. Lugo, by materializing the reconstruction of art, incorporates his own creation as misconfiguration, and there lies one of the most fascinating elements of his work.

The brief aspects presented here allow us to state that in this schematic sketch of an artist, we are presented with an aesthetic of frailty, in the characterizing the world, as in the re-dimensioning of art. The deliberate “irresolution” of his sketches suggests openness to interpretation among many other things; the anonymous people who inhabit the fragments of these stories ironically leave us in an absurd astonishment. The truth is, that when the understanding of our environment turns difficult, a note made perhaps around a cup of coffee -which even marks its trace on the paper- suggests that the relationship with the outside world will always be mediated by an internal thought left for others to reconsider.

Originally published in Arte al Día Internacional, num. 127.
April-May 2009

Sketch to Move
Sketch to Move, 2008

Untitled, 2008

Sketch to Loose the Enemy
Sketch to Loose the Enemy, 2008

Study to Anticipate Winter
Study to Anticipate Winter, 2008

Sketch for a Howling
Sketch for a Howling, 2008