Senorita Dela Troiiana
oil on primed linen
72”x 48” (183 cm x 122 cm)
Provenance: Private Collection, Singapore
On the Kotillions and Señorita dela Troiiana
The Kotillion series evolved from over fifteen years of my fascination with how enlarging the human body with clothing was a prerequisite for gaining power. Thus, “noble” or powerful beings (monks, kings, bishops, rockstars, superhero action figures, witch doctors, brides, debutantes, Kotillion-bound belles) all expanded their bodies and attached power to this.
The Napoleonic, pre-Victorian or Baroque gown seemed to me both absurd but effective in this exercise.
Then I bring to this a contemporary set of comments. One: that we are permeated by media (all we know of this current postpostmodern world has a large percentage of origins in TV, internet, radio, CDs, DVDs, print, etc.)
Another is that media lubricates its often tragic messages to its public with the beauty of its messengers (either its models, actors, or anchorwomen and men).
Another is the fact that for all my personal skepticism, even as a veteran artist, I am still vulnerable to the sway and swoon of beauty found in media. I catch myself and admonish me, saying don’t fall in love with creatures on TV (which is the translation of the Tagalog slang “’wag
ma-inlab sa tao sa TV”). Might they love all us million viewers back? I doubt. Art should above all be about one’s time. Any memorable artist is obliged to reflect this, whether in communally accessible or very personal terms. My expression hovers hopefully and usefully somewhere in-between. I am in the present, aware of how the present influences me, and I distance myself as much as I can take and try to grasp this and even convey this through the works. It’s a constant evolution but I find lots of resonance available.
Troiiana is a “tagalization” of the Trojan woman (those immortal beauties under siege from the Greeks). Señorita dela Troiiana is like the young lady of a noble family, but obviously there is critical content in my choice of surname. The lady here is inspired by an appealing Filipina news anchor named Ginger and is clothed in all manner of magnified virus molecules (you might recognize SARS, A[H1N1], HIV, Avian Flu, etc. here, but she also hovers over a mound of used warrior’s helmets, another form by which we besiege each other—war).
Which will succeed in toppling us—infection or human hatred? H. G. Wells asked this same question more than a century ago in his War of the Worlds. We await the verdict as conveyed to us by the beguiling lady anchor. She must stand above it all in her calm pulchritude and convey. And then on to the next channel.
(Jose Tence Ruiz, November 2009)