Much like his work, Conrad Ruiz is an explosive bundle of energy. The 27-year-old Los Angeles-based painter jumps with NASCAR ease from extolling Waka Flocka Flame to noting the best strip clubs in Mexico City. At once disorienting and exhilarating, this is also a glimpse into his work. Culling elements from history painting, action films, sports and video games, Ruiz builds his signature testosterone-fueled fantasy-scapes through the unlikely medium of watercolor. "It's all about reaching this heightened state that's explosive," he says. Ruiz has been building momentum since his 2009 MFA show, which saw a painting of Barack Obama riding a corgi make the leap from studio wall to the Berkeley Art Museum's permanent collection. This was followed by a whirlwind debut at Art Basel Miami, and now, a14-foot-tall commission for ArtNow International.

At the moment, Ruiz is preparing for his international solo debut at Mexico City's Yautepec Gallery with a new series based on the Beijing Olympics. He's opted out of the usual downtown L.A. studio, deciding instead to tinker away in his mom's dining room in the decidedly unglamorous suburb of Fontana. It might be this penchant for the margins that affords him his fresh perspective on the big bad art world: "I can't deny it's a magical place," he admits. "But it's also this rabbit hole that goes deeper and deeper -- every VIP room has another VIP room until there's only Luc Tuymans sitting in a room by himself wondering where everyone is. I hope
to get there one day."


CONRAD WEARS JACKET BY PAUL &JOE, SHIRT BY CARLOS CAMPOS AND NECKLACE BY PENNYROAL SILVER.


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