‘Coded’ could describe, in a single word, the vastness of Cruz Jimenez’s visual journey that has spanned decades.
All art is, in a way, code - visually poetic ciphers that allow for innumerable idiosyncratic interpretive experiences beyond the verbal. Jimenez’s storytelling has always been acted out by two casts of characters: the motifs that have become his guardians and companions (the moon, the new shoot of growth, the flecks of light and stars), and a second character, colour. Combined, they conjure a sort of mystic urban fable, and Jimenez himself acts almost behind-the-scenes as the filter through which these narratives are distilled and projected.
The works in Coded show Jimenez’s skill as a masterful wielder of inky darkness, but an irrepressible brightness ruptures the surface. Canvases forming a coherent sub-series of peachy pink veils (orange and pink are what Jimenez calls his ‘Francis Bacon’ colours) sit elbow-to-elbow here with one that evokes a daguerreotype more readily than a sunset, but all are pierced with minute flash of bright white light, the shard of phosphorescent glitter that has also become a character in Jimenez’s oeuvre.
The delicate, feathered laciness of these works belies their sincerity and steadfastness. Where previous work has been based on excavating the past and visualising memories, these works come very much from a present. The title could be read as a nod to the ongoing Covid crisis that grips the world, and the reference is more than in rhyme alone - even the proximity of the works to each other in the way the show is hung, frieze-style, hits differently in our times of social distancing.
But if there is darkness these works do not dwell in it - a figure that reads as perhaps a shoot of new growth, perhaps a tree, heralds spring, and an aura of that crisp brilliance emanates from each canvas to fill the room. Viewers can also discern a horizon, which is almost a gift from Jimenez and something he sought during this time of uncertainty: a progression, a future. Rich with the dichotomies that have always characterised his work, at once submarine and atmospheric, murky but without doom, unstretched and raw-edged or gilt-framed, each work hums with an almost audible sense of anticipation, of hope.