Sunday, August 9, 2015

Luis Cruz Azaceta

Self-Portrait with Phony Hat
colored ink and pencils on paper
other detail unknown

Luis Cruz Azaceta (1942- ) is a Cuban-born New Orleans painter. He explores a dark side of America in his work. His parents were of Basque and Asturian ancentry. "Azaceta" means "from A to Z" in the Basque alphabet. He grew up in Havana, where his father worked for 33 years for the Cuban Air Force as an airplane mechanic. He always wanted to be a pilot. His journey to New Orleans began in 1960 when his family fled Cuba following Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. He and his family settled in New York City, where he studied art at the School of Visual Arts and eventually became a critically acclaimed figure in the city’s contemporary art scene and a pioneer in the New Expressionist movement.

In the early 1980s, he served as a visiting artist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he married, and then moved to New York. In 1992, they relocated to New Orleans with their two sons. He felt a special cultural connection between his native Havana and New Orleans. “I wanted to raise my sons in the South and her family was here in New Orleans”, “I’ve always loved New Orleans.” . Once in New Orleans, he experimented with his art and for the first time used photography and photo-collages to explore the city. Even his application of paint changed in New Orleans.

For him, art is not a vehicle by which one achieves aesthetic satisfaction and an escape from common history and time. Rather, it is a way of facing the world. He recognizes that change is inevitable, and that all of us are implicated by reality and time passing. The world we inhabit is contingent and changing; and chaos is an inherent part of the process. This is the reality we all share and which we all too often ignore.