Derelict Penthouses by
JOSE TENCE RUIZ
Derelict Penthouses fuses painting, sculpture and installation art. Tence Ruiz constructs elaborate vertical structures out of scrap wood coated with resin, attaching them to canvas. The artist reconstructs penthouses, among the preferred abodes of the wealthy and powerful, as architectural and symbolic aberrations and armatures exposed to the elements of decay.
These derelict structures portrayed by Tence Ruiz go beyond formal construction. The symbolic significance of Tence Ruiz's penthouses is echoed in images of political and economic events like the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the local furor over the contradicting Church-State issues, and the like. He utilizes motifs from industrial and religious architectural structures, such as transmission towers and Gothic cathedrals, to denote these structures as symbols of power and prestige. Yet at the same time, the artist portrays these structures as being in a state of decay: ridden with rust and slowly collapsing under their own weight.
All things considered, Derelict Penthouses is a scathing indictment of the two twin towers of the modern-day dominion: Capital and Church. It is a symbolic testament, as well as a fearless forecast, of the eventual fate to befall the current players of global hegemony. The artist poses the question: All enemies collapse-what do we do in between?
Tence Ruiz also presents in this show his Crux series, a set of alternating representations of the cross, among the oldest and most loaded symbols of civilization. Here, crosses constructed out of wood and resin are mounted on canvas amid the backdrop of blue, carrying with them a litany of contradictory significations: divinity and the crucifixion of Christ, medical relief and fascism, nationalism and spirituality. Dark shades of resin coat the crosses with a patina of decay, as if they were artifacts excavated from a long-delayed site. Seen as a whole, the Crux series is a commentary on the shifting modes of morality prevalent within society.
Derelict Penthouses will open simultaneously with Siete Pintados, a one-man exhibition of recent sculptures in wood by internationally acclaimed sculptor and installation artist Junyee. The two shows, through their respective modes of representation, deliver a collaborative commentary on contradictions within contemporary societies, identities and spaces on the verge of collapse.
Internationally acclaimed sculptor and installation artist Junyee's Siete Pintados are seven life-sized wood sculpture pieces of pre-colonial Filipino males, embellished with colored tattoos sourced from both indigenous and contemporary iconographies. Measuring five feet each, the works and the symbols in these embody what art critic Alice Guillermo calls the "collision of cultures", induced by uneven and transitional spheres of development within the context of Philippine society and culture.
The figures were sculpted from discarded acacia and santol hardwood, reflecting the artist's intentional adherence to the use of indigenous objects in art production. An avowed environmental advocate, the artist intentionally refrains from cutting any live tree and sources out discarded trees felled out of natural causes.
Junyee's Pintados series date back to the past eight years. The first Pintado sculpture created by the artist was exhibited as one of the two Filipino entries to the 7th Havana Biennale in Cuba in 2001: a wooden life-size figure of a tattooed pre-hispanic figure held aloft by natural fibers and hovering above a mirror image of a contemporary Filipino male made out of etched glass. The sceond figure was exhibited at the inauguration of the Ayala Museum in 2004.
The artist made use of composite tattoos as symbol and metaphor for cultural contradictions. The tattoos are sourced from representational traditions: from book illustrations of tattoos worn by pre-colonial Filipinos from the Mountain Province and Leyte Islands and from contemporary tattoos prevalent in popular culture influenced by foreign images, such as the iconography of American hip-hop groups, beatnik culture or the protest movement.
Siete Pintados draws on two periods of Filipino representational heritage as a springboard for creativity, to bring across a personal testimony of how the advancement of modern civilization (and its ills such as development aggression) creates a litany of unexpected and stark impacts for the inhabitants of a Third World country where the majority are left behind. The works articulate apprehension of losing individual and collective identity in this period of transitional trauma.
Both exhibits are open to the public.
November 8 to December 2, 2008
Galleria Duemila, Pasay City