After presenting a sold-out booth at the UNTITLED Art Fair in December of 2021, Jean-Paul Mallozzi mounts his first solo show, S.P.F. Thirsty, with Bill Arning Exhibitions/Houston. These new works evolved from his musings on growing up gay in a Cuban-Italian family, his friends (the geeks, gamer nerds, and skateboard freaks of his teenage years), and his first substantive queer relationships as a young adult. These latest works decode the bitchy gossip of these fun, fiercely loving, awkward, and sometimes two-faced relationships that marked his life. In these paintings, Mallozzi continues to expand upon his memories and recollections. With these significant “others,” he includes them into new narratives in increasingly playful, vibrant, and ever more nuanced ways.
Mallozzi achieved acclaim in the last decade with intimate, twilight-lit romantic narratives inspired by the beautifully complex nature of same-sex relationships. Mallozzi’s mystical and poetic figures exploded into pure energy under their hoodies, animated by the irresistible forces of their desire. In 2020, Mallozzi created a series of “salty” portraits incorporating queer archtypes gossiping while drinking coffee/tea with steam literally made of salt. The salt indicates the salinity and general timbre of the banter. He feared and loved these men that are brought to life in these works.
S.P.F. Thirsty steps into the difficult terrain that exists between eroticism and banality. These multi-figure tableaus break from rigid formality into loose, limber, lascivious familiarities, some with unapologetically bushy eyebrows lounging in bed while others enjoy the sun reading a book. Mallozzi cherishes and honors their easy normality. While not direct depictions of the artist and his husband, they are inspired by the quiet, private spaces that define all relationships.