Ángel Ramírez, in the garden of the common

/ 1 June, 2018

In Cuban contemporary art few experiences conserve the enigma and at the same time the freshness of the work of Angel Ramírez (…). In his case the challenge has been to face a reality that is not at all conventional; because of its complexity, and also because of its tendency to be contaminated and enriched with the absurd and the surreal. (…)

Born in Havana in 1954, and a graduate from the Higher Institute of Art in 1982, his work recognizes in the collision of conflicting feelings sufficient energy to put them to dialogue, and extract from the exchange the essence of a creative action. (…). Many of his pieces are metaphors that demand in-depth readings since a symbolic language intervenes in them where the constant transfer of meanings occurs from one context to the other. (…)

The 21st century, and especially its second decade, mark notable transformations in Ramírez’s work, his testimony about the island is adapted to the new circumstances which the country is going through. The themes and focuses are decentralized in a rather visible way, and if before the power figures and other ghosts played the leading roles, now “the common people” are saturating in one way or the other the scenarios that his mind produces. In this time, he has continued embracing materials with a great deal of fervor; and through the labyrinth built based on the redemption that memory contributes, invites us to interpret cautiously each event, to discover at what point we are located in relation to the tide and its abrupt rebellions.

Sello de familia (2012) is a point of splendor in this new state of mind and of creation (…) the individual exists and expresses himself over any sublimation of the collective being. (…) The works of this last stage seem to coincide on two common questions, the first in relation to the nature of the chosen titles, which appropriate a language essentially coming from proverbs and set phrases; which in turn opens interesting gaps for the meaning, where an ambiguity that he incorporates into the works finally proliferates, enhancing the reach of his territories. The second question is related to the materials used; once again the recycled that is organized by the complex of someone who scrapes the surfaces in a gesture of just looking at them, and precisely then decides to incorporate them into a new experience in which subjectivity will have to be produced.

Hay velas y tengo cocos (2012) is a creation that exemplifies very well a crucial and recent moment in the work of Angel Ramírez because of his extraordinary ability to capture the turn of a period and its connotations for national life. (…) Metamorphosed corners of Havana (Aguacate o Teniente Rey (2014); En Malecón y Lealtad hay situación (2014); xylographies that have been able to collect all the fluidity in their contradictions, and lease them for images that strive to highlight the unpredictable, what touches you like an apparition and invites you to perceive that which tends to become rhetorical because of the effect of daily life, like a sort of epiphany.

The appropriation of flowers as the element that he uses to produce each new metaphor occurs deliberately with the work Son para la corona (2012) (…). Flowers taking the pulse of the time, more linked to the contents than to the forms. They are not festive, neither can it be affirmed that they are funereal, they are rather detained, frozen by several circumstances, deciding to show themselves in that limbo from which they do not renounce to identify as daisies, geraniums or tulips, according to the case. (…)

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