Jose Tence Ruiz: Subjectivity in Objectivity
Not many visual artists come prepared to answer the onslaught of queries that spectators never fail to ask them about their elaborate masterpieces.
Jose Tence Ruiz (photo by Pinggot Zulueta)There are the occasional hows: How did you blend your colors to come up with that massively textured background? How in the world did you make your painting that alive? There are also the frequent whys: Why did you draw that? Why title your artwork with something unintelligible? But, always, there are the whats: What is that seemingly phallic and macabre object in the middle of the canvas? What does your anthology symbolize? What do you stand for?
But veteran multi-media artist, independent writer, and curator Jose Tence Ruiz knows exactly what he stands for, his artworks included. Catching him scrupulously working in his garage, finishing one of his installations for his upcoming exhibit this Saturday, is no more than an unsullied indicator that the artist has remained steadfast to his causes.
With more than three decades of seasoned experience and invaluable contribution to the Philippine art scene, Tence Ruiz, or "Bogie" as his buddies call him, indubitably dispels the preconceived notion that artists are incoherent and inarticulate, only relying on their canvases to speak for them.
This is not to say, however, that Tence Ruiz's pieces are lacking in implied, tongue-in-cheek touches and layers of metaphor and imagery--all of which he is definitely acclaimed and known for. In fact, all of his works' configurations brim with compelling artistry, ingenuity, wit, and spirit. A pageantry of metaphors, ironically, Tence Ruiz's inventory takes inspiration from reality. He beautifully combines this reality with touches of emotional responses, creating a harmonious juxtaposition of things originally poles apart.
The union of objectivity and subjectivity becomes evident in Tence Ruiz's menagerie of works. This amalgamation in art, more often than not, is labeled social realism.
Tence Ruiz explains, "Social realism is only a description of an attitude about art. It tells you that art is basically a register or a documentation of what's happening around you. There are people who choose to make an art about fantasy, extra-terrestrial attitudes, or total immersion of self. For us, art is what you see in front of you."
"It's actually close to journalism in that sense since journalism is the recording of events. Obviously, journalists are supposed to allegedly stick to all the facts. You're supposed to take an objective view. In social realism, we feel we can respond to reality emotionally. It can be subjective. We are allowed to be subjective. We are allowed to make your own personal subjective evaluation of things," he adds.
A distinguished alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas who graduated with honors from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Tence Ruiz shares he gets motivation from everything. Having spent a number of years in the publishing industry and migrating to Singapore at some point to work as an editorial cartoonist, he was exposed to Southeast Asian art and its development. …