The Art Historical references in the work of D. Ruiz and V. Polo is reflected not only in their compositional, color and subject matter decisions, but also in their use of reference as a materialin itself. A conversation with the rich history of printmaking and painting is reflected in their works, whether in measures of subtlety or direct reference.
In several of their unique, one-off prints, the work of Andy Warhol is echoed. Warhol’s experiments with flattening depth of field as well as subject matter – evocative of the graphic, commercial commissions that began his career – resonate in the compositions of Ruiz & Polo.
Their 2020 work The Buyers Club (Infinity Edition Etching Rag 310 laminated on wood) proposes a traditional rooftop nightscape, with scant information outlining the buildings that create a backdrop for a rooftop, in which the setting for a social gathering is in contrasting, mostly black and white color.
The graphic nature of the different elements, combined in varying detail and scaled to the composition’s premise, flattens the space, allowing the bright colors of the rooftop to monopolize the viewers’ attention.
Warhol’s use of satire and farce also resonates within the work of Ruiz & Polo. In The Buyers Club, multiple interactions and activities take place on the rooftop, allowing the suggestion of social commentary, as well as incoherent absurdity to coexist. A giraffe seemingly passes next to the rooftop deck, while within the party-scene playing out, a helicopter hovers with a framed, large scale work extending from it.
The collaborators have referenced ‘irony’ as an informing element to their practice, a Postmodernist idea that draws a continuous thread between the absurdist influences of Surrealism and the socioeconomic engagements of Pop Art.
The Buyer’s Club’s opacity in colors and techniques in layering also call to mind Warhol’s silk screens, with a contemporary updating in digital technologies. Just as silk screening allowed Warhol to compose, experiment and edit, the digital medium allows Ruiz & Polo to freely composite ideas and adjust accordingly. To quote the artists directly: ‘The digital medium allows us to experiment before making a final decision, the two-dimensionality connects us with the pictorial tradition of the “painting” that hangs on the wall. We use current media, but
we approach the more bourgeois tradition of artistic expression.
The final result diverts drastically, however, from that of Warhol’s intentions. Warhol was known to create multiples in reference to a post-industrial sensibility and a snubbing of preciousness in the art-making process. Ruiz &Polo’s prints are one-offs; they are excited by the potential for an individual to find a singular connection with their one-of-a-kind works. In this, they veer from Pop Art theories surrounding mass appeal and accessibility. They reflect their interests in articulated subjective experiences via maintaining an ephemeral uniqueness in their one-off works.
Yet, the graphic engagement and charismatic nature of their prints relay an interest in many levels of engagement with the viewer. Within their use of bold lines and playful scaling, one can receive an impact from a passing viewing or a longer consideration of the work. These techniques also draw comparison to one of Warhol’s contemporaries, Keith Haring. Haring, in his influences from commercial art, public art, performance and graffiti, became known forlasting, memorable images that could find their rightful place in multitudes of contexts. The dynamics of his composition and use of color filter through the work of Ruiz & Polo, as well as his unconventional symbolism and his ability to convey a sense of spontaneity in what is obviously meticulous, learned and strategic.
Haring’s work was propelled by a situational urgency in social issues and contemporaneous events; the work of Ruiz & Polo also does not exist in a vacuum. Their work sits within an awareness of Art Historical reference that is, first and foremost, informed by an adventurous embracing of the moment and fleeting present.
Regarding making their first series during the pandemic, ‘In this first series, colour has been very important, there was something playful and vital that we wanted to express, even for the joy of starting our collaboration and for having carried out the works during the year of the pandemic. We are critical of a pessimistic or sceptical perception of the world, we prefer irony and a certain degree of surrealism that explain, together with colours, the world from a less
rational and more intuitive perspective.’
Ruiz&Polo, Barcelona, march 2021.