Exhibition

Marina Cruz. Mend and Amends

25 Nov 2016 – 3 Mar 2017

Arndt Art Agency A3

Berlin
Berlin, Germany

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Arndt Art Agency (A3) is pleased to present Marina Cruz’s first solo exhibition which represents the artist’s European debut.

About

Mend and Amends presents Filipino artist Marina Cruz’s new body of work in the form of six medium to large-scale oil on canvas paintings. The Philippines is renowned for its strong painting tradition established by classically trained artists such as Juan Novicio Luna in the 19th century, and later, Fernando Cueto Amorsolo in the 20th century. Belonging to new generation of contemporary Filipino artists, Cruz continues this trajectory purporting a striking realist technique through the articulation of precise brushstrokes and detailing. Having completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, Cruz has sustained her investigation into the formal qualities of painting since being awarded the prestigious Filipino art prize the Ateneo Art Award in 2008.

Cruz’s central topic of dress via painterly surfaces enlivens connections to Italian Renaissance painting, such as in the work of Duccio di Buoninsegna and Giotto di Bondone from the early 14th century who featured figures draped in material articulated via sinuous lines and shapes in brilliant colours. The artist cites the influence of Classical painters from the 17th century such as Dutch Master painter Rembrandt and Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens as inspiration during formative years spent at art school. Here, textiles were inextricably paired with that of the human figure, tied to the the tradition of portraiture. The abstract forms of the garment suggested the body of the wearer beneath.

Drawing upon this legacy steeped in art history, Cruz’s work is concerned with this interplay between the formal realist qualities of painterly depiction and that of the intangible connection of the life of the invisible wearer. Known for her interest in exploring ideas concerning fragility, imperfection, beauty, authenticity and memory, this preoccupation with clothing was inadvertently triggered when discovering a range of family heirlooms. Cruz elaborates: “This exhibition is a continuation of my artistic practice on looking closely at the use of fabric as a surface and symbol of a person. I carefully observe the relationships of fabric and skin, as object and subject, its forms and textures, sensual and beautiful amidst imperfections and flaws. This fascination with textiles began fifteen years ago. At that time I was looking at various materials, blankets and clothing, and found my mother and siblings’ baptismal dresses. It was a pivotal moment. I observed that the garments and babies’ dresses were so beautiful, yet damaged. They became brittle over time. It made me reflect on how small my own mother was. Touching the garments and smelling their unique scent gave me goosebumps. Imagining my mother so fragile and tiny as a baby was both magical and surreal. I began utilising the dresses as a subject matter, and in the process I was able to learn about my family history.”

Cruz’s paintings allude to, yet are devoid of the human figure. Most commonly featuring details of fabric that fill the entire frame of her canvases, there is a definitive exclusion of a figurative presence in these musings. In a rare instance, Cruz provides an overview of an entire garment in Mend Me (2016) within the show. Featuring a delicate rippled pink dress splayed on a black background, the work acts as an index and anchor, tying together her new suite of paintings.

Evident in these new pieces, Cruz’s work oscillates between representation and abstraction. Akin to still life paintings, the works are distinctly object-based, yet highly concentrated. Examining the depiction of clothing—specifically dresses—its form and textural qualities, the artist’s formal compositions allow for close analysis of sections of material and its condition due to wear and tear over time. The artist’s ability to isolate details in fabric such as its folds, its flow and rhythm, but also its imperfections; the tears and the edges that display the fabric’s construction, is striking. For example, seams and individual threads are discernible in the piece Intertwining Rings and Threads (2016). In Whites and Blues Torn and Mended by dragonflies (2016), Just balls, and atoms, and planets and a hole (2016), and Red Petals Swirling (2016), printed imagery is masterfully brought to life across the ripple of woven textiles, of coloured dragonflies, balls of yarn and flora. In White on White of laces and linings burning shadows (2016) the artist demonstrates her dexterity with the paintbrush in illustrating the intricacies of lace.

Cruz further elucidates her creative process providing an insight into the conceptual underpinnings of the works in Mend and Amends: “in the process of painting these dresses, I deconstruct them. I frame it for the viewer, focussing on a particular detail. The flaws, imperfections, torn and stains are all part of the aging process which both the garment and the wearer cannot avoid. In the meditative and challenging process of painting, one needs to come to terms and accept that the vulnerabilities are part of the beauty, like certain elements of personal history, one need not to dwell on the negatives, but rather, make amends.”

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Exhibiting artists

Marina Cruz

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