Hugo Crosthwaite’s exhibition at Luis De Jesus presents two distinct bodies of work. One deals with the recent murder of 43 college students in Guerrero, Mexico; the other, more murky, addresses the city of Tijuana, where Crosthwaite was born and grew up.
“Shattered Mural” is a beautiful commemoration of the college students. Forty-three freestanding panels, cut in quixotic shapes, are sprinkled across the floor. Propped upright like tombstones, each one depicts a black-and-white portrait of a victim. As you wander gingerly among them, it’s tempting to think you could put them all back together.
More ambitious is a series of black-and-white drawings of Tijuana carnival scenes in the front gallery. Mash-ups of photorealistic images of rides, taco stands, liquor stores and brothels, they are further overlaid with rough, cartoonish imagery of enigmatic figures or lumpy, intestinal shapes.
At first these interventions feel like defacements; on closer inspection they also convey a child-like glee. They are perhaps an effort to introduce another dimension of experience into otherwise bleak imagery.
Crosthwaite is certainly a virtuoso at juxtaposing and reconciling multiple spaces and realities. His works clearly reflect rich internal narratives about Tijuana’s role as a gateway between two separate, unequal ways of life. However, these stories are so deeply encoded, so densely layered, as to be nearly inaccessible.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 838-6000, through Jun. 20. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.luisdejesus.com