Jigger Cruz / Depth Circus
Jigger Cruz explores the primitive memory of the figurative in contemporary painting. He is returning to modernism’s layers of subdued, scarcely fashioned hasty urges to tear down the tenets of precedent movements. When such an attempt is filtered through an ironic, neo-expressionist approach, it’s even more difficult for the viewer to locate the erudite witticisms and context behind the work. In Depth Circus, Jigger Cruz invites the viewer to ask whether the work on display transcends its influences or merely references them.
The paintings re-work many of the stylistic quirks and formal concerns of Classical painting, employing their basic composition and approximating their processes. His pursuit of the idea that a painting is also an installation resulted in exposing the canvas stretcher bars and revealing all aspects and surfaces in the final form. In this sort of contrast of delicacy and wildness do we see Cruz deal almost exclusively with opposites, turning the object inside out and back to front so construction and form become one. This is evidenced most clearly in this series of paintings where the figure presents itself becomes a token to the viewer on first entering the gallery. The figures from classical paintings beneath reminds us of the laborious painting activity as well the art historical baggage of the contemporary painter, with the result that its destruction becomes integral to our aesthetic understanding of the piece.
His materials serve as both expressive, worked elements and raw stuff in their own right, and this fluctuation between both painterly approaches could be seen as a point of interest and a strength. Paint as paint, paint as line, line as annihilation of layer.
The cycle of destruction and creation can be found elsewhere in Jigger Cruz’s work. In his last exhibition, Surface Default , for instance, materials – pencil, the dripped and scraped paint, the occasional wash of gouache – are constantly overlapped. It is difficult to discern the order in which the materials were brought together with the result that these crude forms take on the appearance of sketches.
One cannot escape the feeling that they are half-finished, begging to be transformed into majestic paintings, returning to grandeur that would not look out of place when seen side by side with the referent art museum pieces. This notion is confirmed in the work on show in Depth Circus which uses oil on modestly sized canvasses. Using Spatialist techniques, the paintings demonstrate that Cruz’s approach to the connotations and qualities of a material could just be incidental, and there is nothing is wrong about it.
The works in Depth Circus have been worked on to create a complex network of painted, or more appropriately, squeezed detail. Expertly arranged to create paintings that play on both the physical and symbolic connotations of ‘depth’ reveals the control, restraint and calculations of Jigger Cruz, which are the most defining qualities of his works.