The bogeyman's muse macabre
ZOETROPE - Juaniyo Arcellana () - November 15, 2010 - 12:00am

It becomes a matter of trust viewing the works of Jose Tence Ruiz, whose latest large-scale oil paintings and sculpture installations inhabit “Spectaculation (Only the Old Die Young)” at Art Informal Greenhills, which runs till Nov. 22.

Not the usual gaggle of muses macabre line the gallery walls, demented yet still very pretty doñas from a fractured time, their faces looking verily familiar or is it just me, my imagination and fascination with things that go beyond merely macabre and surreal and postmodern shock, no goth-gothan here.

Notice the artist’s nearly obsessive attention to detail, though not exactly lurid, already juxtaposes with the viewer’s mind’s eye of past traumas and assorted disenchantments, how shall we put it, a sort of schadenfreude by transference. I’ve always wanted to use that word in an art review, schadenfreude, which Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary 10th edition defines as “enjoyment derived from the troubles of others,” and no better place is there than in “Spectaculation,” the bogeyman’s doñas reveling in the smock of civil society both high low, new old, and if ever there was a sadness unnamed then it must be in a corner of a painting now hanging at AI, not Amnesty International.

There are denizens, whole armies of the night that might leap out of the discreet canvas at you, a gun stuck in your baby back ribs, our lady of the bow and arrow, hair done by never mind whom she would like to thank, the faces again familiar, why they could be walking the gallery right this instant, a wine or beer in tow, winking like the cosmic colored evening.

For the most part Tence Ruiz has a penchant for overstatement, but never without the salt of humor, injected in time so as to keep proceedings at a steady clip. He has his lucky stars to thank for, say, that sculptured doña tangke that occupies a good part of the gallery, combat-style, and here the artist clearly outdoes himself, bringing to fruition what was formerly just a figment of imagination, just a pigment of oil on canvas, now come to virtual life and hauling a humongous tree trunk to boot! But this is not statement against climate change, much less illegal logging, simply the artist’s revenge against nature, the mini ipo-ipo that swept through his village in Tandang Sora last June and laid bare the woodwork on his truck, clunk. He got the message from the whirlwind and here it is. Also let not your eyes be deceived, the sculpture is not made of steel or metal, but fiberglass, as the artist himself confessed. Could have fooled me.

One of the paintings caught my eye, the one with “Victor” in title, right near the entrance, it may have been no accident that as an eye peeked out of the painting the song from Phantom of the Opera was playing, could this be Hugo, and the painting a phantom one? I can only picture Tence deep at work on this sort of homage while listening to the phantom of his dreams, how in preparation for each show the artist has to separate himself from the world, kind of a subterranean retreat into the bowels of art, or what was formerly thought of as art.

Another work, by the short staircase leading to the small gallery where another artist is on exhibit, is a painting titled “The Dude Abides.” From a distance it looks like a reworking of the Medusa theme, but upon closer perusal, why, it could take on the appearance of a jihadi selling of a sudden DVDs at a bargain, it really all depends on the substance you’re on. Choose your wild with which to turn to stone.

Can’t say enough about Tence’s recent works, could that be Tina Fernandez Maoi Constantino Wawi Navarroza smiling like the oil on canvas, the nonchalant golfer in the smoky technohub, the crumpled insides of a piano? If there’s a word for romance and ruin, the artist has given color and shape to it.

Meanwhile, in the small gallery but really not that small because no gallery can be too big for him, artist Costantino Zicarelli mounts his latest drawings. Sort of low-profile but not pro-life, a pro-choice Zicarelli gathers together a collection of postcard-like representations in a couple of boxed sets, the effect both comic and profound. It may seem like a black and white world, but the storyboard boxes give subtle hand signs to the subconscious, Post-its read during rapid eye movement. Rather like a new test leper.

I’d heard of the guy Cos before, if we can call him Cos a departure from the cause-oriented, mainly his past collaborations with the poet perpetual enfant terrible Gelo Suarez, who curiously was nowhere around on opening night.

Which was just as well, I told Zicarelli, or else his former collaborator might have had evil humping designs on Bogey’s fallen log in the middle of the gallery, and given owner Tina’s dogs a run for their money. For their honey.

Hello, honey. Don’t miss it. The spectaculation of Bogs. The signs and cosines of Cos. Only the old, only the young sinking into the bog of San Juan.

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