The multi-awarded artist creates highly detailed paintings of vintage family clothes, which are visual contemplations on aging, vulnerability, and imperfection.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue.
Marina Cruz is a contemporary artist from the Philippines who is known for her intricate and detailed artworks especially on realistic textile paintings. Cruz entered the University of the Philippines in 1999 and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts Major in Painting in 2003. After graduation she had a number of different jobs, ranging from gallery assistant, graphic artist, art teacher. When asked if she had envisioned herself being an artist as a lifelong career, she answers, “I always love creation and so even if I am doing other tasks to pay the rent, to support myself and my practice, I see to it that I am able to make works and do exhibitions and presentations. I may not have envisioned it as early on during those times as a lifelong career, but I knew I really wanted to create.”
Her love for creation has cemented her as one of the leading Filipino contemporary artists. Cruz is known for her nostalgic photorealistic paintings of vintage clothes kept by her family. These paintings of dresses capture the quality of the fabric, the folds and creases, as well as the patterns and stitches that adorn the baby dresses. She has some oil on canvas that has embroidery on it, and some with laminated photographs. Her artworks are evocative, colorful, intriguing with formal qualities like shapes, colors, and texture sustaining the viewer’s engagement on every piece she makes.
It was a surprise for her to graduate cum laude with Best Thesis in 2003 as she always saw herself as not knowing enough and so she spent most of her time in the library trying to catch up. In terms of awards, she thinks the Philippine Art Awards in 2007/2008 and the Ateneo Art Awards 2008 gave a lot of validation to her craft. She is also one of the 2012 Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Awardees. Having her solo exhibition entitled “Kambal” in 2005 at the Boston Gallery with the late professor Leo Abaya being the curator of that first solo would be her memorable moment, among many. That particular installation was also shortlisted in Ateneo Art Awards in 2006.
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Photos by Rodel Tapaya.