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Conrad Ruiz at Bozo Mag


In Conrad Ruiz’s “The Gods Must be Crazy,” fire is used to find harmony between the tensions of grief and joy, shock and wonderment, humor and seriousness, and, of course, life and death. Ruiz considers the transience of life, the impermanence of digital mediums, and the destruction that fire is capable of. In one painting, flames overtake a tiger in an Indian cremation ceremony suffused with a sense of tranquility. In another, an exploding Ford Pinto alludes to Ruiz’s father purchasing the affordable but notoriously flammable vehicle in an attempt to impress his mother early in their courtship. 

The memory of Ruiz’s father is the thread that binds these watercolor works. The show’s titular painting is a diptych inspired by an image of Aaron Joel Mitchell, who died after running into the fire of Burning Man’s burning ceremony in 2017. Ruiz reimagines the scene by inserting himself, his now deceased father, and his brother into the blaze. In a nod to Cherokee mythology, the three chase each other in a fiery afterworld.

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Photo: “The Gods Must be Crazy” (2023), courtesy BOZOMAG, images by Ruben Diaz