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Angela de la Cruz | Clutter bag (Orange) II 2004 | Oil on canvas, wood | 180 x 75 x 60cm | Gift of The Michael and Janet Buxton Collection through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2010. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Angela de la Cruz ‘Clutter bag (Orange) II’ 2004

Angela de la Cruz’s iconoclastic art practice subjects paintings to violent and destructive processes. In an art-historical context, de la Cruz’s work might be understood in the tradition of monochrome painting which, at different times over the course of the 20th century, signalled a radical departure from figurative art and proposed a new approach that was anti-illusionist and sought to emphasise the materiality of painting. Other important historical precedents for de la Cruz’s work are Lucio Fontana’s ‘slash paintings’ and Yves Klein’s ‘fire paintings’, in which destructive processes are carefully controlled and deployed for aesthetic ends.

In Clutter bag (Orange) II 2004, the flat, unembellished surface of the orange monochrome is transformed into an anthropomorphic and resonant form. Flatness gives way to volume and the painting, which previously made reference only to itself (and perhaps to other paintings), now reveals its associative possibilities, alluding perhaps to the skin of a battered body. In de la Cruz’s words, ‘the moment I cut through the canvas I get rid of the grandiosity of painting’. It can be said of her work that it sits within the tradition of contemporary monochrome painting while maintaining a humorous and irreverent attitude, overturning preconceptions about abstraction and formalism.

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