Doraelia Ruiz “Never Yes No Me You”
through March 25th
by Genie Davis
Let’s start with a simple wow for Doraelia Ruiz’ “Never Yes No Me You” at Brainworks Gallery. The impressive rainbow of colors, the mix of found images with her own mark making and her use of digital art to combine these elements – this is a mind-bending visual whirl.
Using her merging and melding of a variety of media, Ruiz prints her combined images, stretches them on panels, and then paints over them. This is layering, but it is a delicate layering, her methodology forming an intimate palette to the longing she expresses for what can never be obtained and will never be fully real. The illusions she creates are dreamlike, and in coloration remind the viewer just a bit of the ethos of Peter Max if he did a Vulcan mind-meld with Van Gogh.
Speaking of Van Gogh, examine “What Sunflowers Were to Van Gogh.” Vivid sunflowers seem to melt over an image of a prostrate female form, the words “Dumb Bitch” and a heart emblazoned as a graffiti epitaph across the bottom of the piece. At the top, against a somewhat ominous and clouded shape, “You were to me what sunflowers were to Van Gogh” is proclaimed. The colors are 60s-era pop-vivid, the picture delicate, broken, both unfinished and brave. Passion, it’s incredibly cool and then it dies or it kills, Ruiz seems to say.
Similarly brave and bold, “Don’t You Just Love a Hollywood Ending” evokes disappointment, rage, heartbreak, and fear. The words “Fuck You” say it all, or don’t say it all as the case may be, despite their central placement. At the top, ink letters say “she took the good stuff and ran” and the command to “Run.” Further down the image “took” is repeated, and the word “ran” also repeats. The colors are feminine, the images floral in the foreground; the abstract image clouded, mysterious, darker in the background to the right of the frame. She ran, but she should’ve run more quickly.
In “I Know,” the colors behind the words are melting. The colors melt like a thick, decomposing spiritual skin, a rainbow ruined. The text that is handwritten is turned on its side, so that viewers must tilt their heads to read the white lettering. “It’s not me that’s crying,” the artist writes, and much smaller, like a delicate incantation “I know that you loved me.” Oh but the tears are real, and the love itself is in doubt. This mixed media piece hangs like a sodden garment; a handkerchief soaked in color and wounded tears.
“Paintings are Ghosts Sent to Haunt You.” These are the perfect words not only for this specific Ruiz piece, but for this body of work as a whole. Here, angry painted images like ghosts themselves hover over the top of the painting, while below, floral bouquets are as peaceful as the harridan spirits above are not. Throughout the exhibition, Ruiz’s images will haunt and inhabit; these brilliantly colorful ghosts will follow you home.
Ruiz not only combines images, she causes the viewer to imagine other combined images. Such mysterious and beautiful work, not quite graspable, but work that the viewer longs to try to understand and contain.