Faced with immediate necessities, he went to live in the U.S. while still an adolescent, following in the footsteps of his compatriots. The sacredness of his village does not prevent the quality of life from declining each year, causing Teotitlán natives to immigrate since the 1940s.

In that neighboring nation, where many Mexicans undergo hardships, Pantaleón Ruiz met the vicissitudes of the migrant condition with good fortune and along the way discovered his calling as a painter. By the time he returned to Oaxaca, he had  confronted art-making with considerable skill. Among his abilities, he possessed knowledge of various painting and ceramic sculpture techniques.

As a young master weaver, he entered the twenty-first century, approaching art with a vision quite unusual among his local colleagues. His canvases projected not only the peacefulness of his sacred village, but also a restless need to explore territories in the way he had observed abroad. That is why Pantaleón Ruiz paints with a dual consciousness, multiplying his possibilities of expression: while completely aware of his ancestral Zapotec origins, he also places himself within an even vaster and more ancient tradition, that of human civilizations.

His paintings and sculptures as such speak of that personal story constructed of two different societies, two environments which are part of a greater weaving. It is within that interweaving of experiences, visions and formal discoveries that the artist expressively creates various compositions which, for the moment, keep him away from any given “style.” Pantaleón Ruiz moves from abstraction to figuration with ease, avoiding a fixation on any specific subject or compositional tendency. While in other contexts this characteristic might represent artistic indecisiveness, in Oaxaca it requires a strong will. If there is one factor that limits artists’ achievements, it would surely be “style” (understood as an arrangement of forms and techniques that make the work of a visual creator easily recognizable and thus encourage the commercialization of his work).

Pantaleón Ruiz avoids comfortably flaunting a certain style, preferring to explore all of his resources in textiles, painting and sculpture while looking deper for other forms of expression like literature and graphic design. If there is a common thread appearing in his works, it is that of transition. His art reflects his life experiences. Moreover, he incorporates in his techniques materials of heterogeneous origins: he mixes conventional pigments with cochineal and other dyes usually used by weavers; he paints on exotic Nepalese paper with extreme delicacy, as well as using the more popular bark paper; he combines oil with ink and encaustic or synthetic resins to produce texture. His way of permanence is via transition.

The variants of his production have begun to receive recognition, despite their not being as identifiable as art dealers might like. This speaks more of the work’s aesthetic value than of its mere selling price. In 2006 this Teotitlán-born artist received the award for sculpture, ceramics and graphic design from Clackamas Fine Art Center, as well as one from the Mentor Council for Hispanic Advancement in Oregon City in the U.S.

Jorge Pech Casanova