Following the special exhibition of Yoshitomo Nara, the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts (KdMoFA) has collaborated with Mind Set Art Center (MSAC) to launch a new, heavyweight exhibition: Tide Table by Filipina artist Marina Cruz.
This will be Cruz's first museum show in Taiwan and it is the fruit of her long-term collaboration with MSAC, which has built a deep engagement in Asian contemporary art and served as a trusted platform for collectors. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Patrick Flores, who is set to serve as the chief curator for Taiwan at the 59th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2022. Cruz's exhibit presents a collection of vital artworks from her artistic practice, which involves diverse artistic techniques across different media. The artworks include paintings on canvases, fabric collages, laminated photos, and embroidery evoked by the artist's personal and family history.
Altogether, the collection showcases a variety of aspects of her artistic career spanning over 20 years. Marina Cruz grew up with her maternal grandmother in an old house as her parents were both busy working. During her youth, she developed a deep connection with the historical objects of her family, the old house and with the maternal genealogy. Cruz's practice focuses on the motif of familial memories and the existence of life. With fine strokes and elegant lines, Cruz paints the vintage clothes that the family elders sewed by hand for the younger children. The practice allows her to record details of her residence and to awaken parts of her personal history. The house was also subject to frequent floods, a natural phenomenon considered by the locals as both a disaster and a routine occurrence. Cruz records the stains left by the floods and the dates of these incidents in a time table. The unique record is her way of presenting the trials and tribulations that humans go through in tackling natural changes.
The curator has named the exhibition Tide Table as a way to reflect Cruz's life story and to hint that the artist has condensed much of her sentiments, as well as the shifts in nature and history, in the tide table. Several of Cruz's paintings depict interior details with an emphasis on the traces of water and human existence. These paintings are her way of presenting the journey and history of her family through its relations with the outside world. They allow Cruz to trace back her personal and her family's history and explore how life continued through generations. She renders still life objects with much care and details, giving them portrait-like personalities: the signs of wear on the dresses reveal the history of generations of women who inhabited them not just as clothes, but as shelters; the plants are placed in prominent positions in the rooms, their fragile details and growth marks are depicted with painstaking attention. The pieces of embroidery allude to the artist's multiple identities: child, daughter, mother, wife, woman.
As Cruz intertwines real world experience with imaginary family tales, she brings together memories, reflections, life and art and creates her own life saga. Cruz intentionally enlarges the sizes of clothes on canvas in order to convey their details to the viewers, such as the clothes' colour palettes, the colors combination of the collars and cuffs, the fine cutting and sewing, the folding marks, the worn out patches, the turn stitches, the mould spots, the faded colors and the stains that can no longer be cleaned. These signs tell the passing of time on their clothes, much like annual rings. They gradually appear as seasons and years go by, and mark the signs of life. As she looks back on the past, Cruz offers the viewers a unique way of tracing their memories.
She said that, at one point, we've all had a greyish long sleeve shirt that we wore at the beginning of autumn, or an olive jacket that our parents told us to wear in winter, or that favourite dress that we didn't want to get rid of despite its fading and being all patched up. The stains, which won't disappear despite repeated washes, remind us of the time when we accidentally spilled sauce or drink on our clothes, or the time when we deliberately bought bigger clothes, and how we kept adding patches after we grew into them. The patches, as well as the wear and tear, hint at a family with limited means, at a mother who's maintained a frugal lifestyle, who folded and piled up and put away the clothes at the end of each season, year after year. To Cruz, one doesn't get to relive a life, but the memories can certainly be cherished over and over. Cruz has been weaving together a web that connects the objects to the history and memories of her maternal families spanning three generations. The web keeps on expanding and growing organically, and as it includes more and more details of the clothes and the faces of the many who wear them, it continues to expand upon a life saga rich with femininity, time, memories, history and pain.
Press release courtesy Mind Set Art Center.