Imagine literally stepping into a painting – a painting that begins on the floor and goes up the wall. This is the first thing you will see, and walk on, when you enter Patrick Cruz’s exhibition Bulaklak Ng Paraiso (Flower of Paradise) at Centre A, Vancouver International Centre For Contemporary Asian Art.
The exhibition is a multimedia project that showcases Cruz’s work as a painter and collaborator, showcasing the work of other artists in video, sound performance and a book launch. It also displays Cruz’s continual questioning of identity and belonging.
A part of the art
Bulaklak Ng Paraiso (Flower of Paradise) began with a project Cruz did with Yactac Gallery, a twin artist collective originally based in South Vancouver, in 2014.
“The Centre A team liked what they saw and invited me do a show – two years later,” says Cruz, 28, of his first solo show at a public gallery.
When Cruz pitched his idea to Centre A, he says he wanted to involve the UBC Philippine Study Series or PSS, an organization founded by members interested in having conversations on displacement and issues surrounding migration and identity.
“PSS is also coming from an anthological standpoint as there are some anthropologists in the group,” explains Cruz, who came to Canada in 2005 from the Philippines.
For Bulaklak Ng Paraiso (Flower of Paradise), PSS contributed a video installation about social workers in Hong Kong, which Cruz says is like a documentary.
Though he paints a lot, Cruz says it’s not the only medium he uses.
“With this video project, I was interested in incorporating other people’s work as part of the dialogue, and I saw the capacity to expand the discourse around my work and around Filipino diaspora, immigration and how these conversations can flow in and out with collaborators,” Cruz says.
Including different art mediums in the exhibit is an important way for Cruz to express himself and his thoughts.
“My reasons behind merging different mediums are kinds of metaphors of being a Canadian, a Filipino-Canadian, being this hybridized identity. For me, it’s a direct correlation of how I express this uncertainty – what it means to be Canadian, what it means to be Filipino,” says Cruz.
On March 4, Cruz introduced Bulaklak Ng Paraiso (Flower of Paradise) and says he was delighted to see other Filipino artists come for the opening of the exhibition.
“I was very honoured that Lani Maestro (internationally acclaimed Filipino-Canadian artist known for works such as her rain) came by,” says Cruz.
The art in conversation
Cruz says the painting on the floor now has footprints, from the guests; it has definitely been transformed.
“With an installation you’re implicated in the art, so you’re a part of it and the art talks to you; you’re in conversation with the art, even if you’re not talking about the art (necessarily),” he says.
Cruz says the support from the Filipino community helps to make this conversation stronger.
“Personal stories are not that far from the politics of why migration happens. These small narratives brought forth by immigrants, not just Filipinos, take part in the installation,” Cruz explains.
Through his painting, Cruz wants to talk about issues of immigration – what it means to be displaced and what it means to be a modern person coming from a developing country, landing in a developed country and learning to adapt.
“If you want your voice to be relevant, I think you have to be responsible. I don’t want to make art that you just put on a wall and that’s it and the conversation ends. Art has the power to raise awareness; it may not be the cure for the society’s ills, but it has different functions that can change your perspective, that can trigger something and that responsibility is precious,” says Cruz.
Bulaklak ng Paraiso (Flower of Paradise) is on display at Centre A until May 7. For more information, please visit the following sites: www.centrea.org, www.patrickcrus.org and www.ubcphilippinestudies.ca.