BEARING GIFTS, 2009, Oil-on-canvas, 24" x 36," (via The Nohra Haime Gallery).
Hugo Xavier Bastidas's Bearing Gifts is an intimate, heartwarming, and ironic insight into the tragic nature of border-crossings. First, the title contains the word "Bearing," which relates to an image (in the center of the composition) of a discarded toy bear accidentally dropped on a patch of cacti by a child during traumatic run across the Rio Grande. The word "Bearing" also connotes "conveyance," since undocumented-aliens frequently carry all their prized-belongings on their journey. Lastly, the word is a pun on the name of Vitus Bering, the Danish sea-captain employed by the Russian Navy of Czar Peter the Great. Captain Bering was ordered to find a Pacific Ocean route from Russia to Mexico. In 1725, he accidentally discovered the Bering Straits, the lost prehistoric passageway by which the ancient Amerindians presumably arrived in all the Americas. Bastidas brilliantly reverses the concept of courageous journeying, discovery, and exploration via the image of the toy bear. Meanwhile the word "Gift" refers to the inestimable hours of hard work undertaken by (both documented or undocumented) migrant-workers in thorny industries and endeavors eschewed by most US-citizens; these often excruciating and perilous jobs help to prop-up the "American Dream" for everyone. The image of the misplaced toy bear in Bearing Gifts functions as a lost-object within the contemporary Amnesis theory of Bolivian poet theorist Nicomedes Suárez Araúz. Also, crucial to the image is the concise, cohesive, and germane historical narrative below:
Hugo Xavier Bastidas y Jaramillo de Vequero Freire was born in Quito, Ecuador. His Great Grandfather was the Governor of Pichincha. In this household Hugo's father Hugo Enrique was an aspiring sculptor, Hugo Xavier's mother, Leonor was a poet. The couple in 1959 will migrate to New York City. Later they settled in Paterson, New Jersey. Young Hugo Xavier began to draw at the age of four after watching his dad practice his drawing techniques. Since then, for Hugo, drawing became an essential aspect of his life. Bastidas received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and his Masters of Fine Art from Hunter College in New York City. He has a number of awards including a Robert Smithson Scholarship, a Fulbright Fellowship, Pollack-Krasner Grant and a NJEA Grant.
The Nohra Haime Gallery in New York City has represented him for the past seventeen years, where he has had 13 solo shows, which are often critiqued in Art in America, Art Nexus, The New York Times, and other periodicasl by critics like Robert C. Morgan, Donald Kuspit, and others. He has had major solo shows in museums and galleries throughout the world, as well as participating in major biennial exhibitions. He is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Design (NYC), the oldest institution celebrating the contributions of significant American artist. He is also a member of the Century Association (NYC). For more information on Bastidas; please