, April 24, 2024

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Arc of an Artist


  •   3 min reads
Arc of an Artist

If the book is a compendium of his “arty” side, as Ruiz describes it, the exhibit is a showcase of his “editorial” side

Like many creative undertakings during the height of the pandemic, “Litanya: 1972-2022,” the title of Jose Tence Ruiz’s coffee table book and the accompanying exhibit at the Ateneo Art Gallery, were creations of a mortality check.

With death pressing heavily on the soul and the psyche, even snatching some of his SR contemporaries like Neil Doloricon and Pablo Baens Santos, Ruiz decided to embark on an “anxious inventory” of his accumulated work spanning 50 years.

In his introduction to the book, Ruiz refers to many of his works as a self-confessed agnostic’s personal form of prayer,  “and thus I call this accumulation my Litany.”

The 448-page opus constitutes a “partial inventory,” to borrow Ruiz’s description, of his yield as an illustrator, graphic designer, painter, sculptor, and performance artist. The contents are arranged in linear fashion, providing a canvass in which to view Ruiz’s creative arc, the continuing evolution not only of style, technique, texture and discipline, but also passion and purpose.

For a wider perspective, though, the book should be appreciated along with his works currently on exhibit. If the book is a compendium of his “arty” side, as Ruiz describes it, the exhibit is a showcase of his “editorial” side.

On display along with some of his iconic paintings and sculptures are editorial cartoons from his stint in several local and international publications. Here is Ruiz as visual editorialist, leaning in on the event of the moment, capturing in pen and ink the daily making or unmaking of history in a hurry, with his distinct strokes and thought-provoking, tragic-comic commentary.

“Litanya” the exhibit will run until September 2 at the Wilson L Sy Prints and Drawings Gallery, of the Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University. “Litanya” the book is available at the gallery’s museum shop. (Joey Salgado)


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