Juan Ruiz was born in Jaén, although he currently lives in Granada, where he develops his artistic project. Juan’s first steps in the art world date back to when he was about 12 years old, and dedicated his time to paint graffiti in his town. We are talking about a small town in Jaén, so it was only a matter of time before they were caught. While his friends were forbidden to continue down that path, Juan’s mother encouraged him to continue doing what he seemed to like. “My mother would say to me, “You want to paint? Look, there’s a wall, there’s another one, here’s another one… the whole house, paint the whole house for me”,” says the artist. It could be said, therefore, and he himself says so, that his mother has been to blame for everything. “I think she has been the most important support I’ve ever had, because if it hadn’t been for my mother and how she took that particular situation, I think everything would have been different”.
JUAN RUIZ’S ARTISTIC REFERENCES
Juan studied at art school in Jaén, and it was as a result of the years he spent there and the personal research he carried out that he ended up shaping his own style. The truth is that, as he himself says, he was and is influenced by a multitude of artists, both contemporary and earlier, to build his work. As an example, one of his influences is Jean-Michel Basquiat. In fact, he admits that the references of these painters are evident in some of his works and that in the internet and social networks he has found a tool with which he has managed to combine all his tastes in the same workspace.
The point is that Juan sees in many artists not an artistic reference, but a personal one. “There are some (artists) with whom I identify more with their lifestyle or their way of thinking than with their way of working directly. The fact that a person is personally attractive makes you love their work as well,” he commented at the time for the Talleres Piolas podcast.
JUAN RUIZ AND HIS ARTISTIC TOPICS
If you travel a little through Juan Ruiz’s social networks it is clear that, with some exceptions, the protagonist of his work is the female figure. Is this his favorite theme? “Not always. Nor is it a favorite subject, really,” says the artist. The reason for focusing on the female figure is that “simply that it has the cardinal points more correct or appropriate to what I’m looking for right now than other things”. However, Juan is constantly evolving and searching for a new artistic concept. He explains it himself: “I am looking for myself a lot in the disorder and a little in detaching myself from life and in seeing myself making objects a little more inanimate and looking for a little more chaotic compositions that do not depend so much on the figure itself; as if they were built on their own even.
As for who are the protagonists of his works, the truth is that there is a little bit of everything, but one of the most repeated is the artist’s partner, who is always present in his work.
TECHNIQUE AND CREATION PROCESS OF JUAN RUIZ
SOCIAL NETWORKS AS A MEETING POINT
It was inevitable that this would end up happening, but perhaps it has been the sanitary crisis caused by COVID-19 that has caused social networks to become (even more) a meeting point for artists and and those interested in art. Juan lives this in first person, since in addition to events in galleries, such as contests, Instagram has become the showcase in which he shows and sells his works. “Lately mostly by Instagram because I still don’t have the web set up and right now by Instagram is where I announce everything, or just people are asking me. The other option is contests. Lately I’ve been having a good run. In Spain there are a lot of contests every year”.
JUAN RUIZ’S TECHNIQUE AND CREATION PROCESS
Undeniably, in Juan Ruiz’s work, figuration stands out, but what is remarkable is that he combines this with a more abstract style. “I’ve never really dug into it much; I just take it as it comes to me. Since there is so much over information and I like so much variety of artists, that makes a bit of a spark inside me and leads me to always go outside of what I have studied which is figuration and fidelity.” Actually, in the end that’s what it’s all about: trying and finding. “I’m there in that battle to see where I can take it while feeling comfortable at the same time; looking for my own language”, Juan sums up.
Now, acrylic, oil or watercolor? Juan sees opportunities in all of them, but it is true that he bets a lot on acrylic to prepare the supports, mainly because “it is more malleable to make textures and so on, it is much more comfortable”. As for his choice when it comes to painting, the answer is clear: oil. “I like to attack the material a little bit, to force it, to saturate it a lot, to leave a lot of paste, to wait respecting the times (I don’t care if I leave it a week or two without touching it), I apply lacquer, I apply alcohol, I scrape it… I give it a hard time. I make it suffer”.
He has also tried watercolor, but the truth is that he does not feel very free. Used to oil painting, with this other technique “I close up a lot in the portrait, I go to the detail, etc. You have to let the water do what it wants, let it move, learn to leave it as saturated as it can, let the color almost vibrate. The gesture that a watercolor brushstroke has is not the same as an oil brushstroke. They are different languages and to move away from one and go to the other can sometimes give anxiety”.
JUAN RUIZ’S TEACHERS
The artist always highlights two: Antonio Damián (whom he calls a “rocker”) and Francisco Carrillo (who taught him all about oil, acrylic and watercolor). In fact, from the latter he got several tricks that he still uses today in his works.