Media File
Luis Cruz Azaceta
Date: Cuban American painter, born 1942
Biography: Luis Cruz Azaceta, who left Cuba at the age of 18, is influenced both by Abstract Expressionism and the Latin American tradition of murals and protest art. Through his expressive paint handling and his imagery, Azaceta powerfully illustrates the unjust and violent use of power. In the early 1970s, Azaceta turned away from pure aesthetic concerns; began to paint from his heart; and became committed to the presence of daily life in art. His subjects are taken from urban street life, political violence, injustice and cruelty. The artist often incorporates himself in his paintings, more as a highly empathetic place for shared suffering than as auto-biography.

Azaceta’s work is in some ways a precursor to Neo-Expressionism, a style of painting and sculpture that developed in the late 1970s proper and gained in prominence in the 1980s. Azaceta was already exploring this type of socially and politically-charged imagery in the late 1960s while living in New York City and studying at the School of Visual Arts.

Since 1992, the artist has lived and worked in New Orleans, and his recent paintings and sculptures have addressed the two catastrophes—Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Azaceta is continually overwhelmed by inequality in the world, and his practice continues to address these shared miseries in the modern world.