Hugo McCloud

Stylist/Creative director: Rebekka Fellah Photographer: Enrique Leyva © Hugo McCloud Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

Born in Palo Alto California in 1980, Hugo McCloud is one of the most prolific young artists working today. In a career that has now spanned fifteen years, Hugo McCloud’s work has quickly evolved through a process of restless experimentation, bringing inventiveness and fearlessness to the act of making. The artist is engaged in an ongoing quest to elevate and master diverse methodologies and the array of subjects his work addresses. An abiding, unifying theme is Hugo’s preoccupation with finding beauty in the everyday.

Self-taught with a background in industrial design, McCloud’s practice is unrestricted by classical, academic tenets. He has 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, McCloud creates rich, large-scale abstract paintings and by fusing unconventional industrial materials with traditional pigment and woodblock printing techniques. McCloud’s newest body of figural work touches on notions of class, particularly through his use of plastic bags. His investigation into plastic began approximately five years ago after traveling to India and seeing multi-color polypropylene plastic sacks everywhere. Observing the downcycle of these bags from their creation, to the companies that purchased them for the distribution of products, to the trash pickers in Dharavi slums, McCloud saw how this ubiquitous material passed through the hands of individuals at every level of society.

These representational works address issues concerning the economics of labor, geopolitics and the environmental impact of plastic. McCloud continues his practice of incorporating industrial materials using plastic as a tool to better understand our similarities and differences as a human race; to connect to our environment; and to contribute to reversing the negative impact of our carbon footprint.

McCloud has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, The Arts Club, London and Fondazione 107, in Turin, Italy. He has also been featured in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and The Drawing Center, New York. His work is in the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the Brooklyn Museum, the Mott Warsh Collection, and The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection.

Hugo McCloud lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Tulum, Mexico.

Hugo McCloud upcycled, 2021 single use plastic mounted on panel panel: 65 x 94 inches (165.1 x 238.8 cm) framed: 66 1/2 x 95 1/2 x 2 7/8 inches (168.9 x 242.6 x 7.3 cm) © Hugo McCloud Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York
Hugo McCloud evening stroll, 2022 single use plastic mounted on panel panel: 76 x 66 inches (193 x 167.6 cm) framed: 77 1/2 x 67 1/2 x 2 1/8 inches (196.8 x 171.4 x 5.4 cm) © Hugo McCloud Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

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  1. […] Hugo McCloud spoke to us in early March from Mexico where he built a home and studios. He was asked by the Art Production Fund to join an installation opening in mid-April of vinyl cut images that will be displayed throughout Rockefeller Center. The themes of the pieces are labor, social economics, materials and environment. McCloud recently returned from Africa where he collected a number of polyethylene woven sacks from coal distributors, which are covered in coal dust. These he will use to illustrate the complexities of the coal industry. To hear more about his work, listen to the complete interview. […]