Art Queer News

Hey Tough Guy: Adam Amengual’s Gang Portraits


Adam Amengual’s portraits of current and former gang members bear a striking resemblance to the 17th century Flemish portraiture the artist deeply admires. Each image commands our attention, and Amengual has removed all sense of shame we can only imagine that several of the subjects may grapple with. Instead he offers a way to honor each individual despite their troubled histories, allowing us to wonder about their pasts by gazing at scars, tattoos, and other brands — but without masking their humanity. As Adam puts it: ”A majority, if not everyone in this series has had a mug shot taken of them at one time in their past. I feel I have flipped that old image of them showing them as proud and iconic. It is a visual metaphor for the transformation they are bringing to their own lives.”

Homeboy Industries — a non-profit organization that helps gang members change their lives — assisted in Amengual’s portrait venture, which he calls Homies, and the results are beautiful. Visit more of Amengual’s stately images past the break. Read an interesting interview with the artist over here.


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