Jose Tence Ruiz follows up Venice Biennale with Sipa

The exhibit runs until May 28 at Silverlens.

Jose Tence Ruiz


( The Venice Biennale in Italy is often referred to as the Olympics of the art world. So you can imagine the amount of pressure that Filipino artist Jose Tence Ruiz had to deal with when he was chosen as one of the artists to represent the Philippines in 2015. The last time the Philippines participated in this prestigious event was 51 years ago. Due to unexplained delays, he only had around nine months to think of a concept, wait for the judges to select the exhibit proposal, build the ambitious large-scale installation that he wanted, label all the parts, dismantle the entire thing, box the pieces up, put everything on a plane to Venice, and rebuild the artwork at the site.


But in the end, he pulled it off. The installation, entitled Shoal, pays homage to the Sierra Madre ship. Parked at the West Philippine Sea, this ship is like a carcass of rust and decay, and yet it is still being used to stake our claim on the Philippine territories. This mix of poverty and bravura inspired him to create a ship made out of perforated angle bars wrapped in velvet. The entire piece dominated a room at Palazzo Mora, the space for the Philippine pavilion at Biennale. 


Sipa is his first solo exhibition since returning from Venice. It displays several large-scale installations and paintings at Silverlens Gallery until May 28.


Jose Tence Ruiz


"Mother Nurture"



Jose Tence Ruiz

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Jose Tence Ruiz

"S'kool" detail


The most impressive piece at his exhibition is "S'kool." Done in cooperation with Danilo Ilag-Ilag, Toto Talorong, Jimmy de Guzman, and Ariel de Lapida, the installation has a tower that stretches up to the gallery's roof. The tower references his well-known sculptural series Paraisado, which many call Kariton Katedrals, as they are a mix of a poor man's wooden cart and a grand cathedral. These contradicting images are inspired by Tandang Sora, which is where he lives. The tower for his Silverlens piece is modeled after Manila City Hall with kariton handles all over it. For him, this signifies how the government is pushed in all directions thereby creating paralysis.



Jose Tence Ruiz

"Trope Trophy of Excruciate Ecstacy"


Though the structure looks intimidating, if you look closely at the slabs of marble, broken toilet bowls, and the books made of concrete that are scattered on the floor surrounding the tower, you’ll discover his taunting comedy. The slabs of marble look like gravestones and on them are names such as "Undress Boni-f***-U", "Antonio Luma", "Bayagtas", and other bastardized names of Filipino heroes. Embedded in books made of concrete are smiles, and he reveals that they are politicians' smiles that he took from campaign tarpaulins from the last election. "How does one sum up the inner anxieties of living in this country?" he said, talking about how corruption continues to ravage the country. "How does one articulate feelings of disgust? We can put these into words but the challenge of artists is to create pictures."


Silverlens is at 2/F YMC Building 2, 2320 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. For more information, visit Silverlens’ website.

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