Sofia Ruiz‘s paintings are rather gothic and have a magic realism sensibility, her portraits looking as if they’ve come out of a Marquez novel or a Borges short story. They are incredibly rich, one could say Catholic, in that they are ornate, ritualistic and have a religious quality about them. But that notion of innocence, of the holy family, the basis of Catholic faith, quickly evaporates once you realise that Ruiz is seeking to express imperfection through sarcasm and the bizarre nature of familial relationships.
It’s her subversive use of portraiture that allows her to play with our preconceptions, our view of family, of identity. Look closely. Do you see any love between sisters, mother and baby, father and daughter? No. Rather there is a strange absence of emotion. Of affection. Of love. And in this absence festers a darkness. They are strange paintings and perhaps closer to magic realism than I first thought. Here’s what Ruiz has to say about her work:
Her art work is about the study of the individual identity from the familiar surroundings in a profound and sarcastic way, from which autobiographical elements emerge. The images suggest that families are not so pretty or perfect as they seem but, they are fundamental in the constitution of the individual identity. The speech in my work, appeals to old photos of family groups but it adds a quota of irony, because the characters express a relationship of apparent normality that’s change while it’s contemplated. It’s imperfect, incomplete or far from ideal, These are paintings in search of the bizarre and they let us see indirectly, what lies beyond the apparent normality of the family group Trough disturbing characters that invade the spectator’s space I represent desires and I also like to play with the ideals, and stereotypes .