A personal history of immigration from the Philippines to Canada is a story traced on the surface of Patrick Cruz’s canvasses, made visible through the accumulation of line, colour and gesture, stacked and amassed into an immersive installation. Bright animated patterned paintings line the walls and floor of Plug In ICA’s street front gallery, enveloping the space and its visitors. Titig Kayumanggi (Brown Gaze) is the artist’s gaze – his perspective stylistically melded into a densely cluttered and unified world of painted lines and bold colours, collaged videos, and stacked objects.
Cruz’s installations are painterly visages that carry a vibrant palette and gestural, almost amateurish treatment of paint, which he has described as “mimicking the wild energy of a chaotic terrain.” Cruz’s practice is maximal, accumulative and frenetic. His process most often lead by improvisation – “making before thinking” and the urge to assemble everything around him into scenes that represent the excess of consumerism and the distribution of goods, styles, thought and people. His family’s displacement from a place that is still ‘home’ is recollected in his assemblages, traced through the colours and painted lines that can be read as both pattern and map, creating an energy and flow that fills space. This understanding of otherness and its expression is central to Cruz’s consideration of space which he crams to visual capacity in part as a means to disorient the viewer as well as reflect the swirl of his integration and movement between cultures.
Indications of this motion can be read through the labels of stacked product boxes from Tsingtao beer from China to Ikea packaging from Sweden. As part of his exhibition for Plug In, Cruz has acquired and compiled a random selection of product boxes into a central mound, which he covers in a blanket of his paintings. He leaves the sides of the stack still revealed, showing an array of product boxes a few of which have been cut to house video monitors playing montages of the artist’s travels back to the Philippines, across Canada, down to the United State and into Mexico. This physical manifestation of immigration flows like the capital of products – the importation of commodities reflecting the migration of cultures and people. Distances traversed and differences coalesce, there is movement from one place to another but it isn’t finite; it is continuous movement. What Cruz identifies is an instability that doesn’t reside in a place, as places are as unstable as our bodies are within them.
The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7641 islands, but during high tide seven of them disappear, leaving the landmass of a nation to fluctuate. The occurrence of this variability is a circumstance that Cruz allegorically references to shake the solidified construction of nationhood, which assumes unity defined by land and begets calls for assimilation. But what if it is made clear and normalized that national identities shift as the tides flow and the moon rises? Could this realization form an energy of differences that allows people to move as freely as the distribution of commercial goods? Would it have any effect on the current state of politics that has the United States ban entry for citizens from select Muslim countries, or Britain, who has closed is borders to the fluid movement of the European Union. And more locally would it be necessary for nearly forty people per-week to walk illegally across harsh terrain from North Dakota to the US into the province of Manitoba to seek asylum in Canada? We can ask whether an understanding and enactment of this principle has impact even closer to ‘home’ – would more people who have immigrated from the Philippines come through the doors of Plug In, an organization situated in a city where statics place Tagalog as the second most spoken language after English.
Patrick Cruz is a Filipino-Canadian multidisciplinary artist known for his immersive painting, vibrant colour pallet, assemblage installation style and gestural lines. Influenced by his personal experience of migration to Canada in 2005, Cruz harvests the detritus of capitalist society as actor and point of reflection on globalization, displacement and migration. In 2015, Cruz won the 17th Annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition. He has shown across North America, Europe and Asia with recent exhibitions at Projet Pangee, Montreal; Centre A, Vancouver; Project 20, Philippines; and Multiplex, Portland. His work can be seen currently at the Art Gallery of Alberta, and was presented in 2016 at the Mexico Material Art Fair. In addition to his solo work, Cruz has collaborated on numerous occasions including screenings and performances. His work has been collected by the RBC, TD Bank, and private collectors in Manila, Hongkong, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Florida.
Opening reception: Thursday, April 13, 2017 | 7pm
Tagalog eksibisyon tour ni Patrick Cruz: Saturday, April 15, 2017 | 2pm
Artist talk (in English): Saturday, April 15th, 2017 | 3pm