Multicoloured contorted bodies press against one another in Christina Quarles’ paintings, seeming to strain against the edges of the constraining canvas. These surreal melées are filled with a sense of urgent energy – figures push and grab and kiss and hold one another, framed within abstracted architectural settings. Drawing on her own experiences as a queer woman with Black and white parentage, the Los Angeles-based artist explores contradicting identities through her preferred medium of acrylic on canvas. Quarles has increasingly engaged with overtly political subject-matter: her 2.5-metre-wide painting Casually Cruel (2018), for instance, was influenced by the brutal separation of families at the US–Mexican border. Quarles completed her MFA at Yale University in 2016. Since then, she has exhibited at the Hammer Museum (2023), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021) and the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (2018), among other institutions. In 2022, her work was included in the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale and at the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art.