Thereturnofthedirtyboys explores the timeless and timely intersections of queer identity, the male-to-male gaze, and navigation of space as a genderfluid person of color.

Drawing influence from Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Corps sans organes’ (The Body Without Organs) and the later works of Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry, Cruz explores the nuances of gender queerness, race, and public and private space. Part of Deleuze’s Corps Sans Organes, explores the physical, emotional, and metaphorical disjunction between the body, society, and structures, ideas which Cruz has recontextualized in his work. Cruz infers similar concepts from Garcia Lorca’s work, which was concerned with voyeurism of the body, and constructing binary identities that exist behind the closet door and within the public space.

Cruz examines these important concepts through dramatic tonal shifts that range from pastel to darkened shades of grey that render sinewy and supple male forms with exposed flaccid phalluses. Each composition commands the viewer to engage with the figures in a manner that is inescapably voyeuristic and titillating; the paintings complicate the heteronormative perception of male identity. The positioning of the subjects directly references Balthus’s paintings of young women and girls, only replacing the figures with adult men. In this vein, Cruz manages to both androgenize his subjects and simultaneously hyper sensualize them in a further commentary on gender identity.