Ones to Watch: Hugo Barros
Posted by Maxine Harris

Name: Hugo Barros
Age: 29
Occupation: Collage Artist
Inspiration: Poetry and Music (Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Pink Floyd, Radiohead...)

Hugo’s fragmented paintings are a sight of mathematical ingenuity, artistic­ talent and, in his own words, ‘pop surrealism’. Hailing from Alfama, Lisbon, it is no surprise to find out one of Hugo’s main inspirations for his work are the Portuguese musical styles, Fado and Flamengo. The meaning of Fado in English is “destiny” or “fate”. Songs are characterised by fairly melancholy tunes and lyrics. Although the subject matter can be absolutely anything, Fado music must always follow a certain structure, something which Hugo’s collages appear to imitate, mostly in his repeated use of graphic shapes such as triangles and circles. Asked about his preference for collage, Hugo replied ‘I like this process because it is a way to achieve a point between painting and collage techniques. This way I feel that I am creating my own narrative’.

Much like a novel’s narrative, Hugo tells a story layer by layer, shape by shape. Unlike a novel however, the viewer is immediately confronted by these layers of image story-telling. The image above for example appears to be a narrative of eight parts: six triangles, one prism and one sliced-into-circle. Each of these parts has a certain element of ambiguity. Does the predominantly black triangle represent night, or is it a symbol of emotional darkness? Is the top orange triangle set at sunrise or sunset? All that is clear is the sliced-into-circle and the prism of four different colours. I can almost say for certain that the image depicted in the sliced-into-circle is that of a woman’s face. I can pretty categorically say that the prism is made up of the colours green, orange/yellow, red and black. Hugo plays with uncertainty, fragmenting what could be eight distinct narratives into one: a woman looking out at something unknown, perhaps on a boat (the image as a whole resembles that of a small sail boat). But something within this seemingly simple narrative is conflicted and uncertain (the culmination and paradoxes of shapes and colours).

This element of chaotic simplicity is symptomatic of Hugo’s spontaneous working method ‘I just turn the radio (on) and it happens. It just takes some inspiration, lots of work and research. Sometimes an idea arises from something that I had given as finished’.

By 2022, Hugo hopes to ‘gather a group of friends, somehow related to arts, and publish a magazine’.

Blog: mesineto.tumblr.com