Art Stage Jakarta 2016

August 5, 2016 - August 7, 2016

Brown Dada and the Bastard Medium
of Jigger Cruz and Manuel Ocampo
Navigating with mock-seriousness the theoretical minefield of conceptual painting the collaborative works by Manuel Ocampo and Jigger Cruz shows that there is no longer a viable either/or condition between figuration and abstraction, between the conceptual and material specificity. What the two painters are trying to present is painting qua painting as a conceptually medium specific practice, because that is the only way to investigate painting’s true significance. The enormous potential of what art can do as art only emerges when art deals with the laws, limits and history of a specific medium. They argue that the semantic depth of a painterly formulation can only be adequately appreciated if it is understood as the result of a process of dialogue with the medium. Furthermore, the artists prove that any kind of art or art criticism that excludes all of that must necessarily be superficial. And anyone who reduces art to transferable concepts and readily comprehensible ideas has lost sight of what art is, and what it can achieve by virtue of its nature as a non-verbal language. Any art that defines itself solely in terms of content, and not in terms of its medium-specific form, becomes the kind of issue-related specialty art that critics and curators love, because it always comes with ready-made categories to file it under, such as “identity politics”, “institutional critique”, “critical urbanism” and so on. No valid art or criticism can avoid dialogue with the medium qua medium.
Ocampo starts with figures in his paintings to blur the distinction of the narrative and the non-narrative, between representation and abstraction. By constantly repeating a motif he enters into the realm of abstraction. But the figure remains and we are left with a conundrum. Cruz’ thick impasto paintings mines the depth of the figurative through abstraction. With his layering process he creates landscapes and geological strata of paint. The paint itself acts as it’s own figure in it’s own landscape with no illusions, paint exists in it’s own reality.
Within Ocampo’s and Cruz’ own practice, however, distinct they may seem the question of the medium’s specificity is still explored for it’s cultural value and potentiality to act amidst and against this intense field of our image saturated world.
Selected Works
Participating Artists

Jigger Cruz
Manuel Ocampo

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