David Antonio Cruz

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Artist Statement

I explore the nuances of gender queerness, race, and public and private spaces, and the invisibility of the brown/black body through the use of portraiture and opera-like performances. I draw from queer discourse and texts, and the politicization of the brown and black male body.

I’m interested in interjecting the portraiture canon with brown and black bodies to further complicate heteronormative perception of male identity, the male to male gaze, and the intersectionality of gender fluid and queer bodies that are not often discussed or represented in history and marginalized in our society.

These concepts are explored through the use of dramatic tonal shifts that range from pastel to darkened shades of grey that render sinewy, supple male forms with exposed flaccid phalluses in a state of distress, slipping into a void of color. The poses often reference historical paintings of female forms by male artists, substituting the figures with males bodies, while flipping the power structure, the gaze, and further complicating the hyper-sensualized perceptions of the brown/black male body.

The opera-like performances are a loud psychological manifestation of the portraits frozen in the paintings. The performers are often the model sources for the paintings. Like the paintings, the performances explore the physical, emotional, and metaphorical disjunction between the body, society, and structures.

The operatic performances borrow from queer texts, plays, and films to construct visible queer narratives and to expose forgotten histories. The performances fuse multiple texts together with references from popular culture and personal narratives of coming out. The multilingual performances clash high art against queer slang, playing with language, music and double entendres particular to Latino and Black underground gay culture.

Recently the experimental and interactive, bilingual performances are centered around James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and the last eleven poems, Sonnets of Dark Love, by the Spanish poet Garcia Lorca. The poems were banned for 50 years after his assassination in 1936. Both deal with the voyeurism of the body, fracturing, and constructing binary identities that exist behind the closet door and within the public space.




MFA in Painting and Printmaking
Yale University School of Art, New Haven CT
BFA in Painting
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY


Gateway Project Spaces. Newark NJ
For I Am-Or I was, thereturnofthedirtyboys | Solo
Momenta Arts, Brooklyn NY
Alwaysagoodtime | Solo
Taller Puertorriqueño. Philadelphia, PA
TAKEABITE,elduendealwaystravels…light” | Solo


El Museo Del Barrio. New York NY
Figure Form: New Acquisitions | Painting
BRIC, Brooklyn NY
Look Up Here: I’m In Heaven | Painting
BAM. Brooklyn NY
Maybewecanstayinthisroom | Performance
Gateway Project Spaces. Newark NJ
Green,howiwantyougreen | Performance
BRIC. Brooklyn NY
How To Order A Chocolate Cake | Performance
National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque
Portraiture Now | Painting
The High Line Park for AiOP, New York NY
How to Order A Chocolate Cake | Performance
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Staten Island NY
Green,howiwantyougreen | Commissioned Performance
National Portrait Gallery | Smithsonian. Washington DC
Portraiture Now | Painting
Longwood Gallery, Bronx NY
The Piano Piece | Commissioned Performance
AiOP, New York, NY
Peterpiperwentupthehill | Performance
Performa 13 | El Museo del Barrio, New York NY
The Opera | Commissioned Performance
Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York NY
Friends With Benefits | Painting
Islip Museum, Long Island NY
La Placita | Painting
Julian Navarro Projects | Art Wynwood. Miami, FL
No Returns Project | Video Installation
Anthology Cinema Theater, New York NY
TAKEABITE| the short version | Screening
Big Screen Plaza, New York NY
Echo/ JuJu | Screening
Longwood Gallery, New York, NY
Observed, Imagined and Recreated | Painting
Praxis Chelsea, New York, NY
Delicate Matter | Painting
Jack Tilton Gallery, New York NY
Else | Painting
University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill NC
Take Note | Painting & Video
The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City NJ
Tropicalisms | Painting
The Bronx Museum, Bronx NY
AIM | Painting
El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY
The (S) Files | Painting


Gateway Project Spaces, Newark NJ.
LMCC Workspace Residency Program, New York NY.
Franklin Furnace. New York, NY
Urban Artist Initiative Award. New York, NY
Yale Summer School of Art at Norfolk Fellowship Award, Norfolk, CT
Skowhegan School of Painting/Sculpture Fellowship Grant Award, Madison, ME
Artist in the Marketplace, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY

Rodney, Seph. “Portraits of the Self as Tickets to Paradise”. Hyperallergic. (August 2016).
Embusco, Rain. “16 Must-See Summer Shows Featuring Queer Artists”. ArtNet. (June 2016).
McVoy, Kurt. “ The Return of The Dirty Boys”. Whitehot Magazine. (April 2016)
Embusco, Rain. “ Editors’ Picks: 12 Art Events To See This Week. (April 2016).
Schwendender, Martha. “Portraiture Now”. New York Times. (August 2015).
Dees, Sasha. “Portraiture Now”. ARC. (July 2015).
Carrion, Kelly. “Latino Indentity Through The Self”. NBC News. (July 2015).
Che, Jenny. “Portraits Through Our Faces”. WSJ. (August 2014).
Dees, Sasha. “Alwaysagoodtime”. ARC. (March 2014).
Monsen, Lauren. “Hola, Art Lover”. Journal USA. (October 2013).
Norman, Lee Ann. “Takeabite”. Bomb. (November 2013).
“Studio Magazine”. Studio Museum In Harlem. (Winter|Spring 2012).
Norman, Lee Ann. “Come Flybabyboyfly with Me”, ArtSlant. (May 2011).
Cotter, Holland. “Art In Review”. New York Times. (October 2010).
McClure, Diana. “Else at Jack Tilton”. DaWire. (October 2010).
“Puerto Rican Queer Sexualities”. El Centro Journal. 2007. Cover.
Genocchio, Benjamin. “Coloring a Tropical Paradise”. New York Times (Dec 2006).
Bischoff, Dan. “Tropical Humor”, The Star Ledger. (October 2006).
Dunphy, John. “Fall Colors”, The Jersey Journal (Fall 2006).
Bischoff, Dan. “Tropical Touches”, The Star Ledger. (October 2006).
Genocchio,”For Hopeful Artist, the Search to be Themselves”. NY Times (April 2006).
Quigley, Ryan. “Hitting the Mark”. NY Arts Magazine. 2006.
“Artist In the Marketplace”. The Bronx Museum of Art Catalogue. 2006.
“The Bronx Museum.” Time Out New York Magazine, (March 2006).
“El Museo del Barrio.” Time Out New York Magazine, (August 2005).
“The (S) Files, The Selected Files.” El Museo Del Barrio’s Biennial Catalogue. 2005.
“El Museo’s 4th Bienal.” Daily News, (August, 2005).


Artist Talk, BRIC. Brooklyn, NY.
Artist Talk, National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Albuquerque, NM.
Artist Talk, Montclair State University. Montclair, NJ.
Visiting Art, Yale University. New Haven, CT.
Artist Talk, Americas Society, New York, NY.
Staging The Self, Artist Talk, Smithsonian. Washington, DC.
In Conversation with Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Momenta Arts. Brooklyn, NY.
Screening and Artist Talk with Yulia Tikhonova, Dixen Place Theater. New York, NY.
Performance and Conversation with Raul Zamubio, El Museo del Barrio. New York, NY.
Screening and conversation with Rocio Aranda-Alvarado and Adrienne Edwards.
El Museo del Barrio. New York, NY.
Visiting Artist. Yeshiva University. New York, NY.
Visiting Artist. University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC.
Artist Talk with Deborah Cullins, El Museo del Barrio. New York, NY