A Week of Canadian Painting: Patrick Cruz

Because we are a Canadian-run publication and we admire those who continue to work with the arguably dated medium of paint, in the arguably dismal landscape of the Canadian art-world, we have decided to do a week-long feature on some of our favorite current Canadian painters, in no particular order. Stay tuned this week to see who we believe to be among the greatest established and emerging painters the Great White North has to offer!


Philippine-born, now Guelph-based painter Patrick Cruz has an incomparable painting style. Patrick paints bright, chaotic, almost hieroglyphic paintings that seem to contain some ancient encoded message. Using a collage-esque approach to composition, Cruz’s bold zig-zaggy works feel ritualistic, engaging playfully with folk culture and its aesthetic sensibilities. I heard he paints all his paintings very quickly (somewhere between one day and one month) and works primarily with acrylics. There’s a sense of rush in his crazy colored patterns. I can’t imagine what the inside of his head looks like. We’re happy Patrick won the RBC painting competition because we believe he deserves it! – Olivia Whittick 

Where did you grow up? What was the landscape like?
I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and immigrated with my family to Canada when I was 18. The landscape of Metro Manila is a dense concrete urban jungle with rivers of intense traffic jams amongst buildings and advertisement billboards. Sidewalks are populated with a variety of street vendors selling food, garments and other possible commodities that can be sold. My favourite vendor is the city witch doctor who sells magical herbs and potions for different illnesses and ailments, kind of a pseudo-naturopathologist. Stray cats and dogs can also be spotted often roaming the inner streets. The ambiance is busy, electric and lusty. The street that I grew up is named after a sour fruit called Kamias whose scientific name is Averrhoa bilimbi.

Do you think being Canadian has had any impact on your work?
Being Canadian has allowed me to juggle more than one perspective and it allowed me to use an alternative lens to view life and art. It is interesting to experience two disparate and often conflicting cultural values and the process of adapting to both customs; courting your partner for example is a very well-known tradition in the Philippines and it seems to be absent in the cultural norm in Canada. Both the Philippines and Canada also share a history of colonization which I identify as an important parallelization and subject in my art practice, this dialogue definitely contributes to the discourse of being a transnational.

mythic sensibilities, oil, acrylic, ink, 96 x 71, 2015


Surf and Turf, acrylic on plywood, 48x40, 2015

What is your favorite medium to work with?
I primarily work with acrylic paint. Acrylic is highly time sensitive, it is known to be a marginalized medium and it also relates to the subject matter that my work deals with. I tend to work very fast and I often become impatient when painting, so this urgency suits the medium very well. I also like to work with plaster and found objects.

What themes do you work with, if any?
Recently, my works have gravitated towards the theme of globalization and its effects on various cultural, political and economic sectors of society. The works that I am making currently are responses to the accelerating speed of modernity and how traditions and rituals are displaced, replaced and substituted.

Are you inspired by any Canadian painters?
Norval Morrisseau, Michael Snow, Seripop, Rebecca Brewer, Garry Neil Kennedy, Mark Delong, Sojourner Truth Parsons, Colleen Heslin, Stephanie Aitken, Tiziana La Melia, Jeremy Hof, Sharry Boyle, Elizabeth Macintosh, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and many  more… I am also influenced by a lot of Canadian sculptors like Liz Magor, Brian Jungen, Geoffrey Farmer, Jack Jeffrey, Myfanwy Macleod, Jerry Pethick, Nestor Kruger, Judy Radul, Fastwurms, Ken Lum and James Carl, list goes on…

Is there any one painter who has influenced your work more than others?
Santiago Bose and Manuel Ocampo.




Are you drawn to any particular historical art movement?
It may not be a movement but I especially like the prehistoric art period. Practices such as petroglyphs, cave drawings and other forms of land art are highly influential. In terms of art movements, I think of, Early 21st Century modernism, futurism, constructivism, dada, crapstraction, post-painterly abstraction, non-western art, conceptual art, abstract expressionism, fauvism, primitivism, surrealism, minimalism, net art, post-net art, I guess the whole art canon is pretty interesting and influential.

Do you consider your work to be political?
I think it is political in a sense that I question the role and capacity of painting or sculpture. I think I make art politically but I don’t think I necessarily make political art.

What do you think is missing from the Canadian art scene?
I think it needs more spice.