Jose Tence Ruiz and His Dried Up Pieces of Portable Faith

Jose Tence Ruiz, "BungeeFixion According to Sam Raimi", acrylic on paper

Familiarity with Jose Tence Ruiz’s body of work holds the key to understanding his new show, Dessicated Proxy, running until the end of this month at Galleria Duemila in Pasay City. Continue reading

Disco Bombs, Suspended Leaps, and Shadowplay Explode At UP Vargas Museum

The UP Vargas Museum seems to have become a pretty exciting space this past year.  While it had always housed an important

By Jose Tence Ruiz

collection of paintings and memorabilia, it has transformed into a significant venue for contemporary art. In the past few months, we have seen a series of  exhibits by artists represented by Manila’s leading commercial art galleries.  Consequently, university students have gained access to works by artists critical to the current art scene.  Credit must go to curator Patrick Flores. And this latest trio of shows that he put together, all three that opened simultaneously this week,  definitely underscores this  development . Continue reading

Utopia in the Age of You Tube

More than twenty years ago, writer and art critic Alice Guillermo defined social realism as “…a shared point of view which seeks


to expose or lay bare the true conditions of Philippine society as well as to point out solutions by which these conditions are changed…”  Social Realism, or SR, has always had a strong presence in the Philippine art scene.  Artists don’t exist in a vacuum.  And just as in any community, some show more concern than others for politics and social justice.

I have always looked forward to the group exhibits by the Social Realism stalwarts:  Antipas Delotavo, Jose Tence Ruiz, Renato Habulan, and Pablo Baensantos.  They come together on an almost annual basis, mounting shows of mostly large-scale paintings. I have seen some pretty important pieces come out of these SM Art Center displays.  Among them, Biboy Delotavo’s unforgettable Diaspora, his 2007 mural on departing Filipino overseas workers, and Bogie Tence Ruiz’s first forays with the Kotillion in 2008.

Renato Habulan, detail, "Liwanag 1"

YOUTubia continues this tradition of the SR barkada.  The show’s title plays on the word utopia, the ideal social, political, and moral state.  In this age of the internet and global interconnections, one’s concept of utopia has broadened to embrace technological advances.  Social realism must also keep up with the times.  Thus,  aside from the Fab Four, this show includes work by Neil Doloricon,  younger activist-artists Mideo Cruz, Iggy Rodriguez, and Buen Calubayan, as well as less militant contemporary art practitioners Tatong Recheta Torres, Constantino Zicarelli, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, and Jay Pacena.

Renato Habulan, "Liwanag 1" and "Liwanag 2"

Bogie Tence Ruiz on curating the show:  “I gave them no other brief other than think about the present, where  You Tube has infected UTOPIA. It is not Dystopia, just YOUTubia, which is not a failure or a disappointment, but an eye-opener to a new reality, unfolding, mutating, intimidating, still untested and unqualified, but true and undeniably pervasive and contemporary,  about as contemporary as all the Internet, Facebook, Twitter etcetera etcetra.”

Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, "Karaoke Art Project"

This unusual combination of artists actually works for me.  It is perhaps a testament to the respect accorded to Bogie that the artists produced significant pieces.  Not many group shows can boast that achievement.  I especially enjoyed Ling Quisumbing Ramilo’s Karaoke Art Project.  She altered the background images of karaoke songs to that of Philippine art pieces, uploading more than 4,000 photos from her colleagues.  Through this project, she brings art to a new audience, those unable to visit galleries and art spaces.

Tatong Recheta Torres, "Untitled"

For Ling’s other piece, her Static Series, she spent hours in front of the t.v., waiting to photograph faces distorted by static.  She arranged her photos to form a life-sized frame of an empty computer screen, a comment on today’s sensory and information overload.

I also loved Tatong Recheta Torres’ untitled portrait of a disintegrated face.  Frankly, I’m not sure how this relates to You Tube and Utopia, but it is a beautiful painting nevertheless.  He pays tribute to a beloved father figure who passed away last year.  Tatong also reveals that with this piece, he went back to his original process, painting without photo references or grids.

At foreground, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, "Static Series"

Bogie introduces his caballeros, solo paintings of FPJ and Erap borne by steeds.  They flank a diptych of a mob of movie villains, contravidas slain by the two movie idols in the course of their cinematic careers.  Unfortunately, their prowess could not extend to life beyond the big screen.  Both of them have been browbeaten by a petite adversary, the head of state who takes pride in her resemblance to Nora Aunor. No description can do justice to Bogie’s wonderful use of colors for these three pieces.

By Jose Tence Ruiz

A protest cannot be complete without a burning effigy, and sure enough, EfPIDGEE, burns close by.

Jose Tence Ruiz, "Kabalyero Sa Dalampasigan Sa Tabing Na Bughaw"

There’s a good reason why we’re missing Biboy Delotavo’s murals for this show.  At the end of April, he brings a show of large-scale paintings to the National University of Singapore (NUS).  What we see here are two pieces from his 2008 Artesan show, also in Singapore.  I had only seen photos of these before, and enjoyed this chance to see them in the flesh.

Jose Tence Ruiz, "Kabalyero Sa Puwang ng Gabi't Takipsilim"

Jay Pacena mounts an impressive assemblage of his painted digital prints of subjects on a freefall. Neil Doloricon also uses digital prints painted over with acrylic for U.S. Diplomacy and Na-Edsahan Tayo.  Unlike Jay’s monochromatic grays, he has chosen neon colors to give his pieces a pop, graphic feel.

Jose Tence Ruiz, "Miting De Atrazo"

Mideo Cruz paints!  His Laissez-Faire shows mirror images of the iconic Eddie Adams photograph of a South Vietnamese general executing his Vietcong prisoner.  Portraying a horrific act twice makes it ubiquitous, and consigns it to the commonplace.  We viewers becomes inured to such despicable deeds.

Antipas Delotavo, "P2Pass" and "White Edifice"

My only complaint about the Pablo Baensantos piece, Labor and Monkey Business, on monkeys as politicians (or are the politicians monkeys?) swinging from an LRT station is that it was mounted  high on the wall;  too high to get a good view of its details.  Fortunately, you do not encounter the same problem with Renato Habulan’s Liwanag 1.  You can relish every tattoo on his skinhead’s sinewy arm .

By Jay Pacena

Cos Zicarelli’s two works on paper seem like movie stills to me.  From Bogie: “Iggy Rodriguez’s painting is about the powerful moloch lording over the destruction of the small and weak. Buen Calubayan presents a cycle of death, consumption, and tribute with his images of dead laboratory mice, wakes,  and a video of a boa constrictor devouring another mouse.”

Neil Doloricon, "US Diplomacy" and "Na-Edsahan Ka"

In YouTubia, you get a blend of the traditional and the more contemporary, various interpretations that somehow gel into a satisfying mix.  SR moves on.

Mideo Cruz, "Laissez Faire"

YOUTubia New Works, Effigies, and Videoke runs from 8 April to 2 May 2010 at the Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Pasong Tamo (Chino Roces Ave.), Makati.  Phone (632) 813-2310 or visit

Pablo Baens Santos, "Labor Monkey Business"

Buen Calubayan, "Unrehearsed Jazz"

Constantino Zicarelli, "After White Zombie" and "After (After White Zombie)"

Iggy Rodriguez, "Dante's Rest Day"–So

Rodel Spins Folk Tales in China, Bogie Dances the Kotillion in Singapore, and Annie Takes Us Through Art History in Manila

Rodel Tapaya, "Aponitolau and The Great Flood"

Rodel Tapaya, "Aponitolau and The Great Flood"

Rodel Tapaya, "Bringing Fire to the Earthworld"

Rodel Tapaya, "Bringing Fire to the Earthworld"

Two of my favorite artists, Rodel Tapaya Garcia and Jose Tence Ruiz, take their art to Beijing

Rodel Tapaya, "Origin of the Mountains"

Rodel Tapaya, "Origin of the Mountains"

and Singapore respectively, with solo shows of mainly works on canvas opening seven days from each other.  Meanwhile, back home, Annie Cabigting opens her first major exhibit in almost two years. For fans of Filipino paintings who happen to be traveling around Asia these next few weeks, here are three good shows to catch: Continue reading

Bogie’s Loony Uncle


Jose Tence Ruiz Pila Baldessari and Blu Skreen Pila

Jose Tence Ruiz Pila Baldessari and Blu Skreen Pila

On the surface, Jose Tence Ruiz seems the most unlikely of guys to do a show on National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.  Although the 53-yearold multimedia artist studied art at a time when schools taught the Amorsolo template, Tence Ruiz, aka Bogie, cut his artistic teeth in the 70s, the decade of protests and revolutionary art.  His exaggerated, oftentimes grotesque, figures set in an explosion of junk or mired in muck, give harsh depictions of the underside of life in Manila.  He also did time as an editorial cartoonist, politics and governance serving sustenance to his art. To this day, Bogie remains a pillar of Social Realism, the opposite end of the spectrum from Amorsolo’s benign sunsets and fragile beauties.  

Once Isa Lorenzo had convinced Bogie to visit SLab, this exhibit  had metamorphosed from a one-piece show into

Paraisado Florida de Don Romantico

Paraisado Florida de Don Romantico

Bukod Tanging Pag-Ibig: A Don Fernando Register.  The exhibit’s title a literal and lyrical translation of the name amor solo from Spanish to Filipino. Not just my only love but the pinnacle of all loves. 






 “I see Amorsolo as a loony uncle you might snicker at, but cannot ignore.  He is part of my DNA”, declares Bogie.  After almost thirty years, Bogie can take a step back and react to his differences with Amorsolo’s visions of reality in a relaxed, even humorous, manner.  “His works haunted me, mahirap ipinta.” He labels Don Fernando a retinal genius, a cinematographer who can capture light like no other.  In this suite of twelve works, he dexterously puts together Don Fernando’s iconic images with his own signature tongue-in-cheek devices, bringing Amorsolo into the world of 21st century Philippines.

In three oil on canvas pieces, Mga Dalagang Bukid , Dalagang Bukid 1, and Prinsesang Bukid, he integrates Don Fernando’s most famous ladies with today’s realities: of bukids and rice fields transformed into golf courses and low-cost housing projects. The graceful damsels today burn from the rays of

Jose Tence Ruiz Mga Dalagang Bukie

Jose Tence Ruiz Mga Dalagang Bukid

a sun that penetrate a thinning ozone layer as they find employment as caddies, their parasols converted into golf umbrellas. In Takipsilim:  Dinadaga and Monumento sa Dalagang Bukid, Bogie takes Amorsolo Light into the evening, rendering two of Don Fernando’s most recognizable scenes under a cover of darkness, as if viewing with night vision goggles the images of a Manila ruined by war and a nipa hut on the edge of farmlands.

Jose Tence Ruiz Prinsesang Bukid

Jose Tence Ruiz Prinsesang Bukid

Bogie will not be Bogie without his social commentary. He conveys the common tao’s daily plight of never ending queues: for passports, for visas, for buses and jeepneys, even to get into variety shows like Wowowee.  The title Pila Baldessari is taken from both American conceptual artist John Baldessari’s wont to conceal his subject’s faces with colored shapes, and also from the colloquial term pilang balde. For that dose of relevance, Bogie uses forms that mimic Bayani Fernando’s MMDA Art as face covers.  


Jose Tence Ruiz Oil/Painting

Jose Tence Ruiz Oil/Painting

The pieces, though, that have Bogie’s hallmark through and through are the work on canvas of an oil rig that blights Manila Bay’s famous sunset, amusingly entitled Oil/Painting, and the show’s two sculptures, Paraisado Florida de Don Romantico and Ube.  The kariton as both cathedral and conveyance has been used by Bogie before.  This time he amorsolo-fies this, covering the wooden piece under layers of silk flowers set in resin, beautifying an otherwise bleak structure.  


Ube, a free-standing piece made of resin, pays tribute to the deliciousness

Jose Tence Ruiz Ube

Jose Tence Ruiz Ube

of Don Fernando’s nudes, rosy-complexioned creatures, delectable as ice cream.  He turns once again to the MMDA for inspiration, coming up with the dull violet shade by combining the bright pink and blue strewn by the MMDA all over the metropolis.


Jose Tence Ruiz finds that responding to Fernando Amorsolo’s body of work does not detract from the understanding of his own.   Just as it is with that loony uncle that hovers in the sidelines of family gatherings, in the end, he discovers that they can sit down and grab a beer together.  And it sure tastes good.


Bukod Tanging Pag-ibig:  A Don Fernando Register is on exhibit from February 18 to March 21, 2009 at Slab, 2f YMC Building 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, Phone 816-0044. There will also be two artist talks by Jose Tence Ruiz on March 7 and 21, 2009 from 3 to 5 pm.  Visit  

TutoK Tackles Crisis; Mike Goes Eclectic


Detail: Neil Pasilan Installation


Three years ago, a core group of concerned artists came together to make a stand against the spate of extra-judicial killings that hit unrecognized, anonymous, mostly rural, Filipinos.  Since then, this loosely-organized band of artists, headed by Manny Garibay and Karen Flores, have made it

Manny Garibay and Racquel de Loyola

Manny Garibay and Racquel de Loyola

tradition to put together an exhibit on or around December 1, Human Rights Day.  To quote core member Noel Soler Cuizon, “Tutok employs art as medium, message, and motivation” to call attention to important issues affecting our daily lives, collaborating with NGOs like KARAPATAN and educational institutions such as the University of Sto. Tomas, St. Scholastica’s College, and Ateneo de Manila University.

tutok-foregroundFor this, their anniversary show with an array of over a hundred 18 x 24 inch works, TutoK challenges both artists and the community at large:  what do you make of a nation, and a world, in financial crisis?

The show is on view from 30 November to 10 December 2008 at Blanc Compound, 359 Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong, Ph: (632)752-0080

Mark Andy Garcia and Lynyrd Paras

Mark Andy Garcia and Lynyrd Paras









Entrance Installation by Don Salubayba

Entrance Installation by Don Salubayba

By Bogie Ruiz

By Bogie Ruiz











Mimi Tecson Collage

Detail: Mimi Tecson Collage











By Jay Pacena

By Jay Pacena














Michael Cacnio’s brass sculptures, with their decorative, often humorous, take on everyday Philippine life may seem poles apart from TutoK’s more


Detail: Subok

thought-provoking pieces.  Mike’s works are easy and whimsical and popular; his shows quickly sell out.  But the underlying viewpoint perhaps falls within the same spectrum: that of celebrating one’s Pinoyness with aplomb, no matter what life hands you.









Eclectic by Michael Cacnio, 24 November to 7 December 2008  at 1/0f Gallery, The Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Ph (632)901-3152 Email: