(b. 1984, Manila, Philippines)
Jigger Cruz explores the primitive memory of the figurative in contemporary painting. The paintings rework many of the stylistic quirks and formal concerns of classical painting, employing their elemental composition and approximating their processes. In pursuit of the idea of painting as installation, he often exposes the canvas stretcher bars and reveals all surfaces, pleasing or not, in the final artworks.
Cruz’s primary artistic approach exists in ideas of defacement and vandalisation. The traditionally painted landscapes that are visible underneath his thick layers of impasto oil and spray paint give the impression of profound wreckage. Given the high level of value that society places on traditional, realistic images, his work is known to stir feelings of both discomfort and freedom. His paintings then become assemblages of recognisable objects and intricate shapes that both entangle and connect: a visual paradox of disruption and harmony.
In another distinct series of works, Cruz deviates from his former method of painting over distinguishable images of landscapes and instead, challenges traditional representation with unique automatism. This method culminates in five to six layers of thick impasto paint, seemingly chaotic swirls of travelling lines, and a strong sense of tangibility in the rough unevenness of its surface. Cruz has elucidated on his technique, describing it as a route to knowledge. He provides his insights:
“I have sought to reach the limitations of knowledge that lead to automatism. It’s a matter of abstraction and using my natural senses and gestures to create an object. It’s about raising questions of curiosity in the process of creating something new from muscle memory. It’s a curious process that allows the possibility to fall into a new form of language.”
Furthermore, Cruz’s paintings are sometimes deeply connected to Filipino Catholicism. Though subtle, religious iconography can often be seen in a silhouette of the Virgin Mother and Child or white halos in the corner of his paintings. Brought up as a devout Catholic, his work contains muted religious undertones that may prove difficult to detect within the chaos of his physical application of colour.
Jigger Cruz lives and works in Manila, Philippines. Cruz studied Fine Arts at the Far Eastern University in the Philippines and Design at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. He has exhibited widely throughout the Philippines and internationally, including “Southeast Asian Abstraction: A New Dialogue,” at Sotheby’s Singapore and “A Book About Death” at the Emily Harvey Space, New York, NY. His work can be found in several international collections, among them The Pinto Art Museum, Manila, PH; Saatchi Collection, London, UK; the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Tel Aviv, IL; and the Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK.