JIGGER CRUZ
(b. 1984, MANILA)

Jigger Cruz explores the primitive memory of the figurative in contemporary painting. 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.”

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.

WORKS BY THIS ARTIST

UNTITLED
2020
Pen and Ink on Paper, 48 x 40.5cm (Framed)

Diverting from his signature explorations with thick, textured paint and bold, vivid colour, this monochrome pen and ink work by Jigger still radiates with energy. 

The bottom half of the canvas shows a detailed, realistic depiction of plants sprouting from the ground, placing us outdoors and immersing us in a fantasy nature scene. As we gaze towards the middle of the work, the piece grows more surreal—ornate swirls, evocative of elegantly curved brass instruments, suddenly pop out from the tree, brimming with vibrant sound and movement. 

Finally, at the top half of the piece, raw abstraction pervades. Rough, random circular strokes fill the paper, contrasting and complementing the refined flora at the bottom. This abstract force sets the mood for the entire work—disrupting the peace like the harsh, unpredictable winds in a hurricane. 

Yet amidst the chaos, a bamboo tree trunk firmly stands in the middle—commanding our attention and literally grounding us back to earth. The thin trunk here serves as a moving symbol of steady inner strength as life drastically moves from calm to turbulent. Like taking long breaths in the middle of a panic attack, gazing at this simple tree trunk thus becomes deeply consoling.

UNTITLED
2020
Pen and Ink on Paper, 48 x 40.5cm (Framed)

In this piece, Jigger creates yet another pen and ink work that breaks the boundaries between figuration and abstraction. Employing his quintessential raw and rugged style, he creates an organic background packed with quick, energetic strokes and loose shapes that evade easy identifications—blurring together into one abstract disorder. 

Yet at the centre, a tall, refined object emerges, separating itself from the chaotic background. Several small circles, which are shaded and defined such that they vividly pop out, compose its body, while long cylinder objects, akin to telescopes, are fastened at its top. Strange and alien as it appears, the figure possesses a fluid, adaptable form that does not entirely blend in nor stand out against its background. 

In this ambiguity, the piece provocatively captures the struggle to balance accepting and welcoming the chaos around us, while still holding our own and not permitting ourselves to be consumed.