The Art of Ru: A Dialogue Between Art and Life

Paintings by Ru stands out as a refreshing, neomodern expression of contemporary Philippine life. Ru’s art has a beautiful innocence that, at times, melds into somewhat harsher or darker themes. Yet her light shines through. “Andrew’s Muse” has a somberness that is cut by the lady with the ice cream cone. The startling swirls of pink and the warmth of yellow, set upon a backdrop of assorted whites, blacks, and blues, creates a palpable connection between the medium and the uncertainty of the human condition. The tension is genuine, and you can’t help but think of the woman’s expression. What is she thinking, amidst the impending sadness?

Andrew’s Muse

“Dark Clouds Will Gleam” features an expressive optimism, perhaps, even an outright rejection of the notion of “all is dark and hopeless.” Ru makes full use of various logics and dynamics in her art. She combines fine and harsh brush strokes to create organic visuals that epitomize the meld of human existence: happiness, sadness, loss of hope, and eventually regaining the same as the cycle of life goes on.  

Dark Clouds Will Gleam

When asked about her artistic influences, Ru was candid about adoring graffiti, which has fascinated her for a long time. According to Ru, street art and graffiti had always inspired and influenced her art, even before deciding to pick up the brush.

“Back in college, I got to interview a graffiti artist, Nuno, for an article I was writing. My encounter with Nuno confirmed my appreciation for the art style. It shed light on the intricacies behind graffiti and the struggles inherent in their medium

“I also admire the work of this photographer called Jonk, he calls himself a “ruin hunter,” and I have been following his work for around four years. He goes around taking shots of graffiti found in abandoned Italian villas, military bases, theaters and the like,” said Ru.

Her art has an indelible connection to nature, and she finds it amusing that human edifices, at one point, can be abandoned by its inhabitants and eventually given over to nature’s unstoppable movement.

“Then some person finds it again and tries to put his art into it. I may be over-analyzing it, but that’s how graffiti is to me. It’s quite poetic to me,” Ru muses.

Yosi Break

The topography of “Yosi Break” reveals the artist’s rebellious streak, as she imposes a cigarette on a vintage representation of a Filipina. Ru’s grunge aesthetics is developing as we speak, but “Yosi Break” is a promise of even more striking references to the feminine figure in the future.

Ru began to crystallize paintings during the pandemic, as the artist was left with more and more time with herself. She says that despite the rigors of isolation, she felt freer from the constraints of society.

Hummingbird Escape

“Art frees you from the “social rules,” you thought were written in stone. The perspective that life is rigid is banished when you start picking up that paintbrush, and you have a blank canvas in front of you,” Ru said.

Ru admits that she obsesses over details, and she takes her time with each piece, meditating over the macro and molecular. As she works, she encounters countless moments of awe and the sublime as she continues to discover herself and her newfound art.

“There was a detail in one of my works that I stressed over for some time because it looked like dirt. I was hard on myself for some reason. I set it aside. The next morning, sunlight hit my paintings, and it looked really pretty with the light. That area, which I thought was a mess, was harmonizing with everything else on the canvas,” Ru shared.

Earth in the Alternative

She also shares an important aspect of de-stressing and finding inspiration:

“As to personal rituals, I need my offline time – Wi-Fi off, a cup of coffee, and music. I have a playlist for each painting “session” depending on what I want to make. I don’t really like chatting with people on social media while painting since I consider painting as one of the few moments that I get “me” time,” she advised.

“Nathalia (in Purple)” and “Nathalia (in Teal)” explore the artist’s experimentation with colors, combining the yellows and golds with a spectrum of blues. The illusion of movement offsets the classical balance in Nathalia (in Purple) as Ru rapidly added a myriad of brush strokes to create contrast and vivid life. Nathalia (in Teal) is calmer and more meditative, inviting the viewer into the earthy, minimalist space.

Nathalia (in Purple)
Nathalia (in Teal)

It is undeniable that Ru’s art now plays a bigger role in her life. Her professional training is in the legal field, but she’s now set on documenting her life’s journey with art, one day at a time. Ru’s art is peaceful, beautiful, and always contemplative – three things that the pandemic and life, in general, tend to take away from people. These paintings are appreciative of the things that we miss as we struggle against our realities.

Paintings by Ru is now a living, breathing extension of the artist’s life, one that we can’t help but watch – with joy and wonder.

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