Our Man of Steel: Staff Member Hugo L. Verdeguer

Our Facility Associate, Hugo L. Verdeguer has a long history in the arts, just like our Club!

Since he was a child, Hugo has experimented with form and figure through robust aluminum foil sculpture, in the round, covered in cloth or clay. Whether it were imaginary or a lifelike representation, these creatures would end up in young Hugo’s Super 8 films, which Hugo admits were always disasters, but fun disasters.

As a very private adolescent, he made do in a very crowded household and nested in a little “private” studio—his sister’s walk in closet to drift away, often finding himself in the stairway or on the roof as well.

In 1986, Hugo studied film at SVA, which was very different from the school we know today. After a stint in the film industry, which Hugo claims “had gone badly,” Hugo began attacking mat board with acrylic paint, striving to create texture out of liquid. After ten years of manipulating 2D medium, Hugo was back at SVA working in the film department and experimenting on personal moving images from 1994 until 1998.

In 2005, Hugo started working with baling wire after he took a job as a janitor to support three young children. He found disregarded wire around the office and in the garbage area, where the steel bond recycle material. He played with loops and lines to build jointed animals. He mimicked armature puppets that are used in such stop-motion animated films as, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

These sculptures were functional, as armature is, but they didn’t move as a mammoth does. Hugo was too invested in research and study behind the mechanics of animal skeletons to only worry about film aesthetics. He went to museums, such as the American Museum of Natural History, to photograph, document and sketch animal anatomy in order to render realistic portrayals of his subjects.

From child- to adulthood, Hugo wanted to see toys move and skeletons, walk. Now, he continues to create non-stationary sculpture out of baling wire, nuts and bolts, and nylon washers. Sculpting and bending only with a pair of pliers, Hugo enjoys the challenge of making these realistic, animal depictions with mere muscle fabrication rather than fancy tools.

Hugo draws with wire, similar to how Alexander Calder moved with Kinetic sculpture, both artists complementing the frailty of ephemeral beauty with the lasting power of metal. Hugo is not sure where he wants to see his work go, as far as exhibitions go, but he does wish it to be used as a conversation piece on someone’s shelf, a scientific tool for studiers, or an aesthically pleasing hanging sculpture for dreamers.

What’s next? Larger than life sculptures once he finds the materials!