Three Heads: Clavicle, Shoulder, Breast
This painting depicts the intersections of various bodies, where different intricately-rendered landscapes materialize and stretch off into the distance. The overlapping silhouettes are also the site of a cluster of peaches with human mouths—one opening to reveal an eyeball. This interaction of figures and fruits contrasts with the confining matte background, where tears posit a space beyond the canvas. The artist’s Three Heads portraits constitute a Venn diagram of figures, exploring the possibilities of representation in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional space.
Payano's work often translates and transgresses different artistic forms while examining class, storytelling, identity formation and socialization. Informed by American, Caribbean and Chinese cultures, the artist's transcultural surrealist sensibilities combine aesthetics with humor and the grotesque. Payano's work is informed by what he terms a “triple-consciousness”—a phrase based on W.E.B. DuBois’ theory of African American cultural dissonance, whereby the artist is constantly analyzing his own actions through the lens of his multiple cultural identities (in Payano's case, Afro-Latino, American, and Chinese identities). Triple-consciousness and transnationalism encourage habitual code-switching in communication—wherein one jumps between culturally specific significations or registers—informing Payano’s affinity for creating images and objects that visually, conceptually and referentially shift.
The peach, perhaps Payano’s most iconic referent, is a prime example of his visual language. The artist was inspired to fuse mouths onto peaches from multiple sources—drawing inspiration from both the English phrase “you are such a peach” and the magical peach orchards in Chinese culture. In Payano’s mind, mouthed peaches became “single-celled” humans. The mouths provide an individuality to the peaches. Likewise, the relatively simple peach shape facilitates their inclusion into more complex scenarios and metaphors.
② Represented by:
Miguel Angel Payano Jr.’s painting and sculpture investigates storytelling, class and the formation and socialization of identity. The artist’s visual vernacular, informed by American, Caribbean and Chinese cultures, often translates and transgresses different artistic forms. Drawing influence from his life as a cultural transient between three separate worlds, Payano’s transcultural sensibilities combine surrealist aesthetics with humor and the grotesque.