José Delgado Zuñiga: Cusp

Dec 4, 2023 →

Marquez Art Projects presents “Cusp,” a new body of work by José Delgado Zuñiga. In dynamic paintings and drawings that explode with surreal, humorous and intensely personal images, Zuñiga reflects the complexities of Chicano experiences, with a focus on the formation of identity and freedom. This body of work depicts tornadoes, which consume the canvases and their landscapes. Portending change and disruption, these phenomena are rich with meaning and simultaneously hold, contain, collect and even spit elements toward the surface and the viewer.

The boldly composed, fraught landscapes synthesize locations in the artist’s life, while the storms reflect climate systems, and themes of psychic distortion, cleansing and rejuvenation. Zuniga’s work is deeply personal, drawing from experiences of marginalization and displacement, and the need to comply with prescriptions of culture, race, gender, and religion in order to belong. The tornadoes represent frontiers of identity, and places of emergent understanding: Zuñiga refers to his tornados as “fearsome trauma responses,” as well as
“negotiations to gain clarity.” The artist cites the Nahuatl (Aztec) concept Nepantla to describe an “in-betweenness” used in Chicano or Latino art and literature as a device for criticism and transformation.

These storms also represent passage, and fear of the unknown. The artist likens the storms to the symbolic monsters—squids, e.g.— of antique nautical maps, used to stand in for unknown territories. “I think the margins or the crossroads could allow freedom to take place,” says Zuñiga. “Maybe this freedom has been disguised as undesirable an emotional and mental state by the shadows of the social orders, like the nautical maps that define the borderland of the

José Delgado Zuñiga (born 1988, Ventura, California) lives and works in New York. He completed his MFA in painting in 2017 at Columbia University, New York, where he was an adjunct professor of Drawing and Painting from 2017-2021. Zuñiga was awarded the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant; and the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Community Grant both in 2018.

Zuñiga presented his first solo exhibition in 2019 at CENTRAL FINE, Miami Beach. He has exhibited at Yale Divinity School of Sacred Music, New Haven, Connecticut; The Ventura Museum, California; the Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California; The Miriam and Ira D Wallach Gallery, at Columbia University, New York City; and the Bronx Museum, New York. His work is in the collections of ICA Miami and the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College.

“José Delgado Zuñiga: Cusp” is curated by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director ICA Miami and MAP Curatorial Advisor.