David Antonio Cruz is a multidisciplinary New York-based artist. His work fuses video, costume construction, performance and painting to explore and redefine queerness, diasporic, psychological and ever shifting unnamed spaces.
Cruz received his BFA from Pratt Institute, and his MFA from Yale University. He attended Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture and the AIM program at the Bronx Museum. He is a recipient of a 2013 Franklin Furnace Fund and the Urban Artist Initiative Award in 2011. His work has been exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Bronx Museum, Jersey City Museum, Museo de Puerto Rico, Performa 13, and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. His films have been shown at the Big Screen Project, the Anthology Film Archives, Arte Americas, El Museum Del Barrio and various installations in Philadelphia, Chapel Hill and Miami.
David Antonio Cruz 2016 Artist in Residence Program Solo Exhibition: For I am- or I was, thereturnofthedirtyboys
Project For Empty Space’s 2015 Artist In Residence, David Antonio Cruz’s solo exhibition, For I am- or I was, thereturnofthedirtyboys, explores the timeless and timely intersections of queer identity, the male-to-male gaze, and navigation of space as a genderfluid person of color. All work in the exhibition was created during Cruz’s residency at Project For Empty Space, and ranges from large-scale paintings to mixed media collage, video, and sculptural installation.
Drawing influence from Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Corps san Organes’ (The Body Without Organs) and the later works of Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry, Cruz explores the nuances of gender queerness, race, and public and private space. Part of Deleuze’s Corps Sans Organes, explores the physical, emotional, and metaphorical disjunction between the body, society, and structures, ideas which Cruz has recontextualized in his work. Cruz infers similar concepts from Garcia Lorca’s work, which was concerned with voyeurism of the body, and constructing binary identities that exist behind the closet door and within the public space.
Cruz examines these important concepts through dramatic tonal shifts that range from pastel to darkened shades of grey that render sinewy and supple male forms with exposed flaccid phalluses. Each composition commands the viewer to engage with the figures in a manner that is inescapably voyeuristic and titillating; the paintings complicate the heteronormative perception of male identity. The positioning of the subjects directly references Balthus’s paintings of young women and girls, only replacing the figures with adult men. In this vein, Cruz manages to both androgenize his subjects and simultaneously hyper sensualize them in a further commentary on gender identity.