REALIZE, REAL EYES, REAL LIES
Reynold Dela Cruz
March 27 - April 17, 2021
Award-winning visual artist Reynold Dela Cruz paints every single day. No day-offs or holidays. An old-timer in the art scene-- a trained worker--who painstakingly strives on a daily wage he foregoes to see a muse for inspiration to create. Like clockwork, he shows up at his studio upstairs from his home as soon as he wakes up. And while taking his morning coffee, he is already mixing his paints. This work ethic adheres regardless if ever he will have an upcoming show or not.
As a responsible artist, he paints what preoccupies his critical mind and directly reacts to what is happening to his immediate surroundings. He is at the stage of his career where he can paint his heart’s desire and often expresses an opinion or two in the pieces he constantly churns out. Mind you, there is no same Dela Cruz painting—all are different, opinionated, and a visual feast.
His current exhibition Realize, Real Eyes, Real Lies gathered during this pandemic may be his most political showing ever. Not leaving any stone unturned, these were his realizations. A play for words he has always been fond of—these are what he saw, these are the bare truths and these are his lamentations.
The internet has been his pet peeve these days. A father of two boys, Dela Cruz remains aghast against the positive merits of social media. In Deadly Innocence, Dela Cruz speaks of how children had been lavishly corrupted and lured by information age/edge through the world wide web that they have turned into two-headed monsters that speak even wiser than their elders. Dela Cruz has raised the alarm of peril as he morphs a child into a lion resulting in a ferocious beast. Notice how Dela Cruz synchronized the faces in one unified image armed with bipolar meaning.
Another fool in Dela Cruz’s vocabulary is pseudo collectors who use and abuse artists to lure them just to make a greedy sale. Eye on the Prize lends credence to how many bright people end up as false prophets leading to the wrong cause. They forget the artist at once as soon as they tricked them and flip his art for a bigger turnaround purchase. Dela Cruz remains a steadfast critic to guard against the tides of the prevalence of artificial art auctions and art fairs.
Even Dela Cruz himself is torn by the decisions he makes. Evident to that is Contrary showing Dela Cruz undergoing conflicts that he needs to distance himself for discernment. In the end, one must always aim at the greater good.
Dela Cruz is a deep man of faith and aided with Biblical connotations is Deceptive Forest. A poetic parable against the presence of evil that we are sometimes enticed by a beautiful face in its negative disguise. We immediately give in to temptation and resort to sinning. Dela Cruz sees this parallelism with our government’s relationship with China where we are promised sugar-coated plans only to be duped on a one-sided affair as we dwell deeper in our quagmire.
Dela Cruz is a poet of irony that he can visualize his images concealed with his real intentions. His artistic prowess is you are seeing more than what you are experiencing. The State of Deception pertains again to the Chinese who have claimed our historical islands found in our maps and have even brought the virus on our shores. Dela Cruz however argues if we can really resist them as culturally and economically we are entwined since we have already been overwhelmed by their influence—our oldest ally dating pre-Hispanic times.
Thorns have a reference again to the Bible of which Dela Cruz is well-versed. Represented by the fish, thorns signify burden as we are manipulated by how the power controls our lives only to end up being wasted themselves. Notice the neck ruffles which is a staple Dela Cruz connoting the rich exuding European parlance. A kind of postcolonial soliloquy in the making. The fluidity of the colors of Dela Cruz’s oeuvre is astounding.
Your Smiling Face
Dela Cruz starts with a beautiful image as a subject. He then researches the images and composes them around it—all related to the general theme or sentiment in mind. He then adds his signature wildflowers or lush foliage that would eventually complement the picture. Often he adds a fictitious element like a fire dragon which is a remnant of a bygone time he was doing henna tattoo by the beaches of Boracay during the late 90s.
Flowers and foliage have occupied Dela Cruz canvases ever since Dela Cruz went to Mt. Pulag in 2015. He saw wild vegetation he could not forget them. He immortalizes them on canvas every chance he gets. He also depicts that we are in our forest that we ran blindly unaware of the unruly oats that grow and sow our fields of consciousness and morals.
As soon as the paint has dried up and subsided, he slits his canvases using a cutter and ruler—this is a final act of redemption to know he is done. Only Dela Cruz does this supreme sacrifice which only shows his belief that nothing is sacred or permanent—that even the most beautiful images can perish, might as well do the sacrificial lamb. In a way, this is the death of the artist and Dela Cruz is fine with this mortality.
In this ongoing pandemic, one cannot help feel a sense of fleeting moments—of uselessness and morose prevalence of going through the motions. One feels what it is to be slowly losing it as if time slipping away—as seen in Drifting. As two opposing demarcations face the challenge of just letting go. Dela Cruz is a master of illustrated animation. He conveys fluidity as he makes surrender look like ecstasy. A similar sense can be felt in Deep Sigh where one cannot breathe just by looking as if being wrapped in a feeling of anxiety, of being drowned from our sorrows and a sense of helplessness forebodes. A surreal sublime like a fish drown in its own water.
Silent Moaning refers to those who remain defiant against the odds. Again a reference to Dela Cruz who uses art to get back at his detractors. In keeping their opinions to themselves yet they are shouting from within.
It is hoped through Realize, Real Eyes, Real Lies Dela Cruz reminds viewers we should think before we act on what is right--not only for our children but simply fellow humans. As we bid our goodbyes after the interview, Dela Cruz was already painting his next piece for his next exhibition.
- Jay Bautista