Hugo Kobayashi was born in 1962 and grew up in Orange County, California. He’s been drawing, painting, cartooning and making movies for as long as he can remember. His artistic career began with a special recognition for his hand drawn giraffes in kindergarten. Another artistic highlight was having a weekly comic strip, “The Critic!” in a West LA weekly newspaper for three years in the mid-90s. In 2006, eight of his oil paintings were included in a group show about global climate change at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. One of his oil paintings hung in the de Young Open in San Francisco in 2020. Additionally, he’s had four one-person oil painting shows in San Francisco and one in Brooklyn, NY, and frequently participates in group shows at Studio Gallery in San Francisco. The animated cartoon that he made with Paul Kilduff, “A Critique of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest,” was part of the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival in San Francisco in 2019.
For “Picture Show” he focused on three tragic women: Marilyn Monroe, and the fictional characters, Norma Desmond and Kay Adams.
Despite her fame and seemingly glamorous life, Marilyn Monroe was a desperately unhappy person, which I tried to convey in “Overexposed: The Tragic Life of Marilyn Monroe in Cinemascope.” She was never able to reconcile her dumb blond, baby doll persona with her need to be respected as a talented, intelligent woman. I used a famous photo by Richard Avedon as my model and greatly increased the contrast.
My two favorite Hollywood movies are “Sunset Boulevard” and “The Godfather.” Both films had unforgettable emotional endings with gripping close-ups. I took a frame from the final scene of each movie and tried to heighten the emotional intensity even further by rendering the actresses against a black background in “The Final Closeup, (Sunset Boulevard, 1950)” and “The Enlightenment of Kay Adams, (The Godfather, 1972).”
Hugo Kobayashi received his A.B. in Studio Art from U.C. Berkeley (1983), and his M.F.A. from Hunter College (1985), in New York City.