Yautepec is pleased to present “Pacific Theater,” an exhibition of new work by Conrad Ruiz on view from May 19 – June 18, 2011. The artist’s first exhibition at the gallery features a new series of watercolors-on-paper based on imagery from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
This latest body of work develops Ruiz’s ongoing interest in athleticism, a trope he utilizes to explore questions of globalization, shifting national boundaries and contemporary myths of progress. Turning to the Olympics as a theater of the international, Ruiz presents ecstatic snapshots of a post-NAFTA world engaging in what the artist terms “a flexing contest between nations.” At once explosive and critically apt, the resulting images reflect the spectacle of a world becoming international, while pointing to the complex histories this process must contend with—questions of race, class and colonial violence, which invariably inform these imagined moments of collective euphoria.
As with previous works, Ruiz’s explosive compositions draw from a broad range of references—from the kinetic energy of video games and Hollywood blockbusters, to the lyrical dynamism of history painting, including the epic tableaux of Delacroix and Gericault. Formally, these new works also turn to the history of geometric abstraction in painting, through their bombastic use of pattern and repetition. Treading onto new terrain, this technique provides for dazzling moments of painterly abstraction that also have a pointed political charge.
Conrad Ruiz was born in 1983, and received his MFA from the California College of Arts in 2009. He has exhibited in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and San Francisco. His work has been featured in New American Paintings, Paper Magazine, Dazed & Confused, and Vice amongst others. His work is part of numerous public and private collections, including the Berkeley Art Museum permanent collection and the Peggy Cooper-Cafritz Collection, Washington D.C. Ruiz recently completed a large scale commission for the art foundation, ARTNow International, Paris and San Francisco. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.