Two women on a sofa look straight at us, their bodies close to one other, legs intertwined. One of them sits up, while the other lies supine, letting her head drop beyond the cushioned edge. The image has a playful sensuality, underscored by the women’s exposed shoulders, bellies, and chests, their contorted poses and confounded limbs, and the phallic forms under the sofa. The reclining female bodies bring to mind art historical precedents, such as Titian’s Venus of Urbino, an Italian Renaissance painting of 1538. Whereas Venus appears passive, April’s and June’s assertive gazes convey empowerment and control.
Through painting and performance art, David Antonio Cruz explores the visibility and intersectionality of queer Brown and Black bodies. This painting is part of his series returnofthedirtyboys, in which he portrays young queer activists and queer-identified men and women from his community.