Throughout her career Angela de la Cruz (Coruña, 1965) has experimented with the language of painting for over 20 years. The artist has tried to redefine the terms and boundaries of the medium since she began, focusing on painting as an object and in terms of what it can represent. De la Cruz has developed a specific language that enables her to endow her paintings with sculptural qualities, erasing the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and using each of them without distinction depending on what she wants to express and the need of each work. As the artist has said, “It’s a sculpture using the language of painting and vice versa. In other words, it’s a painting and a sculpture.”
The exhibition takes its title from one of her first works breaking the stretcher, Homeless (1996). It was one of her first paintings to use the surrounding space, not only to contain the work but also to emphasise its condition as a painting. This great yellowish painting with its broken stretcher rises up from the ground, lurking in the corner of the exhibition space. As its title indicates, it represents the homeless, who carry with them their belongings and memories. People we encounter cyclically in our society as victims of the global transit we are experiencing during these decades due to political, economic, social, cultural and bellicose conflict matters. Some of De la Cruz’s frequent topics in her work are her concerns with our present, social inequality, the political situation, effects of climate change, and images of war and terrorist attacks.
This exhibition presents a journey through the work made from 1996 to 2018, creating different associations with works from different periods, some of which have not been exhibited retrospectively. These works offer a solution, a Creole type of language in which the artist has manipulated forms, in order to turn them into containers of the presence or absence of the human body and painting.
De la Cruz has always perceived the stretcher as a bodily extension, and all her works revolve around its dimensions. She produces her works traditionally creating a monochromatic surface anchored to the history of minimalist painting tradition. At the time she broke her stretcher, her paintings began to incorporate the accidental, suffering amputations and occupying any place in the exhibition space, i.e. in the corner, on the floor, standing, hanging, resting or leaning against the wall. These are her Everyday Paintings [1995 – 1999], paintings which interact with other paintings to create object-paintings, appropriating a human feeling with their titles and specific location within a space, such as Homeless, Ripped, 1999 and Painting and a Half, and a Parasite I, 1996. From there she went on to what she called Commodity Paintings [1997 - ongoing], in which she explores serial and repetitive concepts to produce different series, such as Loose Fit [1999 - 2018], Deflated [2009 - ongoing], or Damaged [1998 - 1999].
Further on, the artist began working on the Still-Life [2000 - 2001] series, where her paintings incorporated objects such as household furniture. These works were the first to tackle volume, mass and weight, which are all specific qualities of sculpture, and became part of her work from then on. Recycling has also been a constant throughout her work. In her work Recycled Paintings she reuses stretchers and canvases from old paintings to make new ones. The series Clutter [2003 - 2005] are containers with works that incorporate the remains of other paintings in bags and boxes and, in the case of cupboards, of themselves.
After three years of inactivity, De la Cruz reopened her studio in 2009 creating new works which reflect what the artist calls a ‘serene violence’ which can be perceived. On the one hand there are canvas paintings that have been manipulated without being torn, hung without a stretcher or covered in plastic. The early works were painted and then torn to show visceral emotions. On the other hand, the artist has started researching the possibilities of aluminium, creating boxes which are knocked about or distorted prior to painting. The subsequent application of a coat of paint creates a restful peaceful work. These aluminium boxes then conquer both the floor and walls increasing their pictoric vocabulary.
Her artistic language uses humour in the titles to present us with striking works combining formal tension with a deeper emotional presence. Her works reveal a threshold state between one form and another, showing one appearance on the surface while insinuating another that can be found below. Her works are rooted to the floor, walls, or another work. However, they are also temporary. The selection for the Homeless exhibition manifests the precariousness and vulnerability which the works reveal after having been manipulated by the artist, unprotected and bearing the burden of both painting history and the present time in which we live, upon their shoulders.
Carolina Grau. Curator of the exhibition.