Name: Manu Cruz
Type of art: Paintings & sculptures
“My paintings represent the street and the street is all of us”. From a very young age, Manuel has been fascinated with the colors and compositions of letters and drawings of the graffiti covering walls in and around cities. Although Manuel didn’t realize it at such a young age, all those graffiti impressions sculpted Manuel, awoke his taste for art and helped create the artist he is today.
Manuel began his own artistic career in 1996 (when being 13 years old) as a “writer” of graffiti, capturing his name on facades, walls, trains, tunnels – basically any structure of the city he was able to paint on “leaving me with a high level of adrenaline, and slowly dragging me towards a clear desire of one day becoming a full-time artist”, as he says.
Towards adulthood, Manuel felt a calling to become more advanced in his artistic expressions, and started to develop his own ideas based on adding aesthetic points of view to the most common everyday things, and thereby generate a visual tension for the spectator. Doing that, however, required a different tool set, and he therefore decided to move from the walls to canvas, from the street to the studio.
During that period, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Jean Michael Basquiat, and Keith Haring … or closer to home, the 20th century European expressionists such as the Kobra group arouse the deep interest and love that Manuel feels today to painting and the world of art.
After his studies in the Faculty of Fine Arts, his new knowledge leads him to develop his own conceptual thinking that we live in a consumer society, a society in which we look indirectly to identify with what surrounds us (Andy Warhol and his soup cans, the success of American realism with Edward Hopper or the hyperrealism of the streets of New York of Richard Estes). As Manuel says: “People recognize and empathize with what they can see in my paintings, because it is causing a feeling of warmth and closeness, between the viewer and the work.”
Through this personal development Manuel has created a mindset of pure contrast in his paintings: a traditional technique, such as oil, a realistic style that rubs against the Pop-art, Kitsch and a fully modern and contemporary theme: fashion, clothing brands and consumer items, sneakers, icons, society characters mixed with a marginal touch of hidden messages from underground culture … are mixed in the same format and painted on a canvas stretched on a wooden rack.
“A cocktail of society”. In essence that is how Manuel Cruz paintings are.