Branden Charles Wallace
In December 2008 brothers Diego and José Sucuzhañay were walking arm in arm on a Bushwick street. Their fraternal intimacy--commonplace in their Ecuadorian homeland--was mistaken for a blatant homosexual display, an angering public affront . The brothers were attacked, beaten mercilessly, and José died.
Masculinity is a social construct. Its definition is fluid, shape-shifting through time, geography, ethnicity, social strata and race. The paintings here by Branden Charles Wallace focus on an American perception/interpretation of masculinity. Today. They push masculinity up against intimacy, an exercise that rattles most even in this hyper-sexualized society...at least when the subjects are men. But it is not the “sexual” that Branden Wallace lays bare on his canvases. It is the relationships that American men allow, enjoy and deny with other men. Intimacies. Between fathers and sons. Brothers. Partners. Lifelong friends. Someday, perhaps, even spouses.
Wallace controlled only the setting of his paintings--a small settee that imposed at least some degree of “nearness”; his subjects controlled the revelation. His instructions? “Show me your relationship and then stay still”. As often as not, after a break, the sitters put considerably greater distance between them and had to be reassured by a photograph, or painting itself, to assume their original proximity.
The paintings hanging here leave it up to the viewer to gauge the relationship depicted. Wallace is not commenting on masculine intimacy. He is witnessing it. Exposing it. Liberating it. Recording it. And, ultimately, promoting it. He doesn’t break the boundaries of male bonding; he delineates them, and leaves it up to us--and time--to erase them