Theater of the absurd

Reynold dela Cruz is ready to conquer the world

With the easing of the pandemic restrictions, visual artist Reynold dela Cruz is back in the spotlight with his solo exhibition “Theater of the Absurd” at the Atelier Hamman in Germany. 

Reynold dela Cruz

Born and raised in Muntinlupa, Reynold infused the elements of his impoverished neighborhood of Bayanan into his art. His childhood was spent behind an ice plant and on the old tracks of the Philippine National Railways. It is the place where he met people from all walks of life. He has seen poverty, drug addiction, and petty crimes in his lifetime and he was able to escape this through art. 

“The concept of my artworks at Atelier Hamman was triggered by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Our country was already going through a pandemic and a conflict was also brewing among Filipinos because of the elections. But the greatest war, for me, is surviving in this pandemic. With that, art and faith became my solace to fight and survive this unseen enemy,” says Reynold. 

In the show, Reynold showcased the beauty in the conflicts he is experiencing in his mind. Visual elements that have become a signature in his work are prominent in his collection. Flora and fauna illustrate beauty, flight, and the wildness of nature. Dragons also appear as symbols of power. But the most significant element of his work is the sliced canvas. 

“This exhibit was very sudden, that’s why it was challenging for me to create my artworks. All of my works here are very spontaneous and extracted from the top of my mind. The common denominator in most of them is the portrait of a beautiful woman. But the most satisfying and the culminating part of it all is when I slice the canvas. That’s when I know that it is finally finished,” he says.  

His Battlefiled has the most obvious visual reference to the theaters of war, a reminder of the current events in Europe. The work shows that a person’s intention can be lost in translation. Trying to be the loudest person in the room, everyone fails. “Battlefield expresses different emotions—anger and violence and love and peace,” he says. 

Theater is an allusion to different battlefields and conflicts, not just in Ukraine and Russia but inside the hospital where patients fight for their lives and on social media where people battle it out for their principles. 

Young Guns discusses the duality and duplicity of appearances and success. This was inspired by how an individual’s progress in life is never linear. Some will be more successful than you, while others will still struggle. The image exudes the beauty of youth and growth, symbolizing the “young guns” of each generation and how one cannot be the badass on top. 

Freeze is everyone’s self-portrait. It is a visual parable illustrating an individual’s experience when making a moral choice, when choosing between right and wrong while metaphorically staring at the barrel of a gun. The choices and its consequences are not always clear, which is what creates the conflict. Sometimes, choosing the greater good is the hardest choice to make.

Reynold continues to make his mark in the world. His name, derived from a brand of cookware, has now become his own brand as an artist. But inspiring young artists all over the world to continue telling their stories through their paintbrush is also as much a personal brand of his.

“My favorite part in having an exhibit is showing them that I can be progressive in my craft, that I can also inspire others through my stories. No matter how hard your life is or was, you can always turn it into an inspiration in your art,” he ends.