David Antonio Cruz continues to explore personal narratives and the psyche in his work through his second exhibition with Monique Meloche Gallery. In “icutfromthemiddletogetabetterslice,” Cruz surveys how relationships and connection can transcend biology. In “I’MAWARETHATYOUAREWATCHINGME,IDIDWHATIHADTODOTOSAVEUS,” a man is placed in the center of the canvas. In his lap are framed pictures of people. A blanket wrapped around him resembles an oversized hand on his shoulder. The familiarity of the people in the images extends beyond their frames, encapsulating the main figure’s body through the comfort of a blanket.
The background and foreground of the painting mesh, speaking to the larger concept at hand, intentional placement. Cruz makes intentional the placement between the figures to express a bond that is not blood but comes from belonging. Each painting depicts a community but also explores how a community can be different.
The understanding of community and bond throughout the exhibition is explicitly solidified through touch and closeness. This understanding is amplified through “ANDWE’LLLOOKATTHECLOUDSFROMBOTHSIDESNOW,” and “NOTHATSUMMERNIGHT,THEYWASHAWAY,THEYWASHITALLAWAY,AWAY,THEYALWAYSGOAWAY.” These paintings show differentiating views of what closeness can look like in a community. In the first portrait we see a man sitting upside down, close to an array of framed photos, while the latter shows two men casually lying close to one another.
The layering that Cruz executes in this new work adds to the understanding of close-knit communities. The exhibition is specifically exploring family in queer communities and the multidimensional layers that contribute to chosen families. Each painting has no negative space. Often chosen families come to be after there is a void in one’s biological family. Cruz takes this concept beyond the figures’ interactions and explores filling the void throughout the background and the layering of furniture, wallpaper and space.
The overarching concept that “icutfromthemiddletogetabetterslice” explores is the concept of a central support system. This concept of central spaces and the title of the exhibition go hand-in-hand. Cruz shows the viewer that a chosen family, a core group, can be depicted in various ways. How the spaces in these portraits are not defined by linear boundaries is similar to the way that Cruz is teaching the viewer how a chosen family is formed. (Caira Moreira Brown)
“icutfromthemiddletogetabetterslice,” Monique Meloche Gallery, 451 North Paulina, through December 18.