Ruiz’s message is simple but powerful. Gold is one of Colombia’s most precious natural resources. In depicting human figures interacting with it, Ruiz meditates on the importance of harmony between man and the Earth. In the evocative Voyager (2015), Ruiz employs gold leaf and resin to create a rich, shimmering effect that instills his message about the beauty of the earth and our responsibility to protect it.
There’s a Zen-like quality to these works, something vaguely reminiscent of paintings from the Far East—an impression that’s only enhanced by the boat motif that floats through the series. Throughout his career, Ruiz has returned to the symbol of the canoe. As Colombian art critic María Cristina Pignalosa points out
, “As a means of transporting people and goods in many of Colombia’s remote places [the canoe] is also a symbol of forced displacement—a tragic and persistent issue of the Colombian conflict.” In choosing this boat as the vessel for his human figures, Ruiz not only references this cultural context, but also suggests the idea of Colombian art traveling to the rest of the world—a fitting sentiment as his works travel to Dallas, where they will be met by an international audience.