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Luis Cruz Azaceta City Painter of Hearts 1981

Luis Cruz Azaceta, City Painter of Hearts, 1981. Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 120 inches.

Collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ.

Luis Cruz Azaceta is included in the group exhibition Radical Conventions at the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, FL.

This exhibition presents a selection of Cuban American artists, whose works from the 1980s in particular move beyond the context of exile and displacement, considering cultural and personal influences such as sexuality, gender, religion, class, and political positioning. Included in the exhibition is Azaceta’s 1981 City Painter of Hearts, an amalgamation of the artist’s personal and social ideals. In the painting, the city’s skyline - a biomorphic, living thing - is set ablaze and overrun with turmoil. In the lower right corner, the artist continues to paint despite the violence around him. 

About the painting, curator Susana Torruella Leval explained that “like Picasso’s periodic recapitulations, [it] sums up Azaceta’s previous years’ work… In front of the impeccably neutral foreground, a dog chases a cat who chases a mouse who chases a bone. Meanwhile, the master of transformations paints at his easel, oblivious to the apocalyptic bloody debris around him; coyly hiding his sex, he paints a perfect red heart onto a miniature blue canvas. He understands his role; painting reveals a caring heart.”

See this work in Radical Conventions: Cuban American Art from the 1980s at the Lowe Art Museum through June 12, 2022.