Two Weeks/Two Works: Conrad Ruiz
By Daniel J Glendening
Two Weeks/Two Works, at Fourteen30 Contemporary, is an experiment in exhibition: a suite of four two-week exhibits, each featuring two works by a single artist (Conrad Ruiz, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Andrea Longacre-White, Grier Edmundson). One stated intention in limiting the exhibitions to two works each is to allow space to move around the work, physically and psychologically. Pairing two works has other effects, as well–two pieces are brought into direct conversation with one another: a back and forth that invites comparison, debate and dialogue. It seems that one can expect each to be an exhibition in and of itself, a highly focused glimpse into the work of each artist. There may (or may not) also be the slow emergence of a dialogue of between works across exhibitions–each a small piece of a larger whole, or an episode in a gradually developing miniseries.
The pilot episode of Two Weeks/Two Works features two works by Conrad Ruiz: “Nova,” a 24″ x 19″ watercolor and oil on paper grey-scale painting of a tightly muscled male torso, as the subject peels off a shirt and clutches in one hand what appear to be, perhaps, cycling goggles, and “Punch Monster,” a 53″ x 35″ watercolor on canvas piece depicting an abstracted field of spare, intricate marks that generate what appears to be the surface of red liquid–water under red light, a bloodied sea or, perhaps more to the point, red punch flavored Monster energy drink. There’s a strong dichotomy of difference between the works: just as the virile masculine body is drained of color and, by extension, vitality, it is also rendered in such a way as to flatten the body, the man’s pectorals an almost geometric form, while the abstraction-leaning “Punch Monster” is pumped up into high contrast hypercolor–a color field that moves and ripples. The body becomes inert, isolated, while this other thing that fuels us, that we can see but not quite see, that we can grasp but not quite grasp, radiates.