Luis Cruz Azaceta, Shit My Head is Burning... 1981

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Shit, My Head is Burning but My Heart is Filled with Love

1981

Acrylic on canvas

66 x 66 inches

LCAp 155

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Tunneling 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Tunneling

2019

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 48 inches

LCAp 159

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Bang Bang You Are Dead 1978

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Bang, Bang You Are Dead

1978

Tempera on canvas

49 x 49 inches

LCAp 156

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Rainbow Rope 1979

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Rainbow Rope

1979

Acrylic on canvas

66 x 66 inches

LCAp 153

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Gun's Parade 1979

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Gun's Parade

1979

Acrylic on canvas

66 x 66 inches

LCAp 157

Luis Cruz Azaceta, No Parking Any Time, 1978

Luis Cruz Azaceta

No Parking Any Time

1978

Colored pencil on paper

24 x 18 inches

LCAd 164

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Blue Head 1979

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Blue Head

1979

Colored pencil, ink on paper

50 x 30 inches

LCAd 156

Luis Cruz Azaceta, La Mano Blanca 1979

Luis Cruz Azaceta

La Mano Blanca

1979

Colored pencil, ink on paper

50 x 38 inches

LCAd 155

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Do Not Kill Here From 6 am to 4 pm, 1979

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Do Not Kill Here From 6 am to 4 pm

1979

Color marker, ink, silver pencil on paper

40 x 28 1/8 inches

LCAd 140

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Spatial Incongruities 033, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Spatial Incongruities 033

2019

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 48 inches

LCAp 158

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Spatial Incongruities - Breaker, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Spatial Incongruities - Breaker

2019

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 48 inches

LCAp 160

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Spatial Incongruities 222, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Spatial Incongruities 222

2019

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 96 inches

LCAp 161

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Spatial Incongruities 111, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Spatial Incongruities 111

2019

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 96 inches

LCAp 162

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Innocent Incongruities 061, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Innocent Incongruities 061

2019

Acrylic, ink marker, pencil on paper

26 x 20 inches

LCAd 159

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Innocent Incongruities 019, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Innocent Incongruities 019

2019

Acrylic, ink marker, pencil on paper

26 x 20 inches

LCAd 160

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Innocent Incongruities 101, 2019

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Innocent Incongruities 101

2019

Acrylic, ink marker, pencil on paper

42 x 30 inches

LCAd 161

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Installation View, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2020.

Press Release

Now EXTENDED through May 30th.
 
The George Adams Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Luis Cruz Azaceta, Personal Velocity: 40 Years of Painting, his sixteenth at the gallery since 1975. For over four decades, Azaceta has cast a critical eye on society and its worst tendencies through the lens of his own immigrant identity. This exhibition will present two distinct periods of Azaceta’s work, paintings and drawings from the late 1970s as well as from the past year. Despite the intervening decades and evolution of his style, there are intriguing parallels between the two bodies of work.

 

Living in a small apartment in Ridgewood, Queens during the late 1970s, Azaceta was responding to the violence endemic in the city in his grotesque parodies of urban life. These feature dismembered, luridly painted and bleeding bodies, festooned with stabbing knives, shooting guns and littered with cigarette butts. Both paintings and drawings, done in graphic, bright colors, are exuberant displays of casual atrocities with the helter-skelter action of a comic book. Most of the works from this period also feature subway tracks looping around the action, tying together the many disparate actions both literally and compositionally. Motifs such as matchbooks, rainbow eyeballs, cockroaches, pissing dogs and pirate flags add to the visual texture while street signs proclaiming, ‘Do Not Die Here’ bring a touch of irony to the gruesome scenes. Despite the frenetic energy in this work, there is a sense of order to the flat, outlined forms that hints at a tendency towards abstraction. This coalesces in a 1981 self-portrait, Shit, My Head is Burning But My Heart is Filled With Love, where contained within Azaceta’s head is a reductive version of his street scenes, while atop it sits a crown of flames.

 

Since his move to New Orleans in the early 1990s, Azaceta’s work has become progressively more abstract. The examples in the exhibition are from his most recent series’, what he calls Spatial Incongruities or Innocent Incongruities: labyrinthine compositions of blocks of color interspersed with meandering black lines in the same characteristically bold, primary colors as his early paintings. Their specific geometry suggests architecture - though the Escher-like rooms, hallways and doors lead nowhere. At first glance minimal, the shapes that emerge give the sense of facades or cutouts, as if the same chaotic scenes of forty years past had been painted over, leaving only their outlines. Azaceta has said, “I see no difference between the figurative and the abstract. I use abstraction as a socio-political vehicle, as I have done with [figuration].” Unsurprisingly the vacant spaces and maze-like pathways evoke the sense of isolation and vulnerability that has long been a central theme to his work. Throughout his career, Azaceta has described what he considers to be his exile from his birth country, Cuba, (he has never returned) as the impetus behind his art-making. Not only does he frequently cast himself as the “other” – and much of his earlier work has a voyeuristic quality – but he treats the attendant issues of discrimination, violence, displacement and feelings of horror or despair with particular empathy. For an artist who has always sought to “[create] something meaningful that reflects our condition,” Azaceta has continually found new methods of encapsulating the concerns of the present moment in his art.