The Latest Book Launch of Jigger Cruz Fills the Pages with Paint | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Jigger Cruz book
All images courtesy of Artinformal Gallery

Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message, ” which rings true for the latest book of Jigger Cruz.



The opening night of Cruz’s book launch and exhibition at Artinformal Makati had the kind of buzzing, festive energy you would expect from the artist. Brujo beer, brewed by photographer Neil Oshima was passed around, accompanied by Ay Papito! flautas by Leon Araneta. 

Yet walking up to the second-floor gallery, the first thought that entered my mind was, “Where are the books?” 

Along the walls are what look like small canvases filled with Jigger Cruz’s instantly recognizable, impastoed strokes. Some darker palettes are struck with yellow-ochre shapes or a dash of sickly-green paint. Each artwork rests at the center of a gilded, antique-like frame. 

At the center of a room is a pedestal. One book lies open. Gallery owner Tina Fernandez stands beside it.

“This is the gallery copy,” she says. I ask Tina where Jigger’s other books are and to my surprise, she gestures to the mounted canvases in the frames. She explains each book cover is a canvas that Cruz painted over, and that it’s no ordinary book. Each art book doubles as a work of art. 


Jigger Cruz book
Artinformal’s gallery copy of Jigger Cruz’s catalog for ”In the landscapes of narratives and false monuments”


The books catalog Cruz’s 2021 exhibition ”In the landscapes of narratives and false monuments”, which opened when the pandemic was still raring and gallery visits and celebrations were kept to a limit.

Cruz shares a close relationship with renowned Curator Norman Crisologo and gallerist Tina Fernandez. While both helped conceptualize the book, I ask Tina how they came to the idea. She replied, “Because we know Jigger’s temperament.”

In the other room, Cruz confirms this, calling the book “archiving in a fun way.” He describes the process as playful, “Para hindi masyadong serious. More accessible. Yung process parang naglaro talaga ako.” 


Artist Jigger Cruz
Artist Jigger Cruz adds last touches to the framed books in the gallery
Jigger Cruz book
A page painted over by the artist


The text inside the book is written by seasoned art writer Arvin Flores, who discusses Cruz’s work, illuminating his references in Western art history, laden underneath “hyperbolic” organic abstractions. The pages are laid out with full work, detail, and installation exhibit images. Random pages feature painterly doodles marked by Cruz’s strokes.

The book crosses between a collectible, while still as tangible as a painting, like an art object with multi-faceted life that spans time and ownership with remnants of a past show moving into a new exhibit that catalogs additional marks by the artist.


“For me, it’s a show using books as a medium or a catalog as a medium.”


Jigger Cruz’s books break the fourth wall. Flipping the pages brings you in close proximity to his applied pigment, allowing more intimate involvement than an actual painting by the artist. As you hold the book in your hands and read, Cruz says, “At the same time you can see the picture, the flesh.”


Jigger Cruz artwork
Close up to the canvas covers of Cruz’s framed books 
Jigger Cruz artwork
The exhibition also features painted paper works by the artist


Many of the works by the formidable artist Jigger Cruz are imposing. His practice is marked by huge canvases with thick layers of impasto where you can’t see the first layer. Even his smaller or medium-sized artworks carry significant impact. Through the sketches found in these smaller book works, both written and visual language comes within reach. Jigger Cruz describes its essence well — “Hindi siya intimidating. It’s too honest.”