Jose Luis Cena
In the recent paintings of José Luis Ceña Ruiz children serve as vehicles for the artist’s moral imagination. Ruiz places his young subjects in theatrical painted worlds that broadcast their innocence and potential while surrounding them with hints of decay and threat. One of the most gifted representational artists working today, Ruiz practices a form of Disrupted Realism that fuses skilled rendering with spontaneous abstraction and unexpected color usage. Carefully structured—yet also intuitive—the finished canvases broadcast a poetic range of emotions and associations.
“Flora” portrays a young girl in 3/4 view, crowned by a wreath of yellow flowers and surrounded by abstracted and stenciled foliage rendered in both verdant and toxic hues. Rendered as a double image—a cinematic feature that suggests the passage of time—“Flora” is both contemporary and ancient, an avatar of the Roman goddess of fertility and spring. Another portrait,“Acquiles,” (Achilles) references a Classical figure who was both heroic and tragically flawed. Hidden behind a cardboard and duct tape mask with the red plumes of a Corinthian helmet, the face of the young boy at its center is not revealed to us. An improvised, geometric background further abstracts the composition and encodes possible meanings. In both cases, the paintings raise questions at the junction of mythological storytelling and contemporary experience. They also explore the deep cultural roots of masculine and feminine archetypes and roles.
“The Party is Over” and “Prelude to the Inevitable II” set images of balloon-clutching birthday kids in front of dilapidated homes which present dismal backdrops for celebration. The two compositions are punctuated by bursts of neon underpainting and random graffiti-like improvisations that both interrupt and enliven their narrative implications. At a universal level Ruiz’s recent works reflect the artist’s paternal affection for his subjects while also placing them in anxiety producing contexts. His artistic process gains much of its power by avoiding raw sentimentality and sublimating the emotional pulls that his child subjects evoke.
With their surprising mix of innocent joy and fraught settings the paintings of José Luis Ceña Ruiz challenge us to reconsider the world we live in. War, climate change and poverty are limiting and damaging the lives of the next generation. At the same time, innocence and joy radiate from the world’s children, reminding us of their potential and ours. Somehow, miraculously, Ruiz manages to combine and aestheticize all of these things and make them visually compelling. By creating open-ended works that are dreamy, enigmatic and paradoxical, Ruiz offers his viewers opportunities to feel more alive to all of life’s possibilities.
Copyright 2018 Galerie Guernieri Mentions légales