Án­gel Ramírez

BLUE- COL­LAR ART WORKER

On Cuba - - LIGHT AND SHADOWS | LUCES Y SOMBRAS - ESTRELLA DÍAZ

AS A CHILD, ANGEL RAMÍREZ DREAMED ABOUT BE­ING A DOCTOR, WHICH IS WHY HE USED TO AS­SEM­BLE SMALL BOD­IES WITH PLASTICINE TO “OP­ER­ATE ON THEM” AF­TER­WARDS. WHILE CHAT­TING WITH ONCUBA HE SAID: “THEIR HEAD HAD A LOT TO DO WITH SCI­ENCES,” AND HE FELT A GREAT IN­CLI­NA­TION TO­WARDS PHYSICS, CHEM­ISTRY AND MATH­E­MAT­ICS. BUT ONE DAY, WHILE HE WAS IN SEC­ONDARY SCHOOL – PER­HAPS IN 1968 – HE FOUND OUT ABOUT THE EX­IS­TENCE OF A WORK­SHOP FOR VIS­UAL ARTS AM­A­TEURS WHICH WAS IN THE POP­U­LOUS GALIANO STREET OF HA­VANA.

There he met Ar­mando Posse, an in­dis­pens­able cre­ator who con­trib­uted to the de­vel­op­ment of en­grav­ing in Cuba and who, un­for­tu­nately, is not suf­fi­ciently rec­og­nized or stud­ied. Posse gave him the first ba­sics of mak­ing en­grav­ings on wood (xy­log­ra­phy), and that was the spark that made Ramírez un­der­stand that his true vo­ca­tion was vis­ual arts.

Then came the schools – first the San Ale­jan­dro Academy of Fine Arts, and af­ter­wards the Na­tional School of Art (ENA) and the Higher In­sti­tute of Art (ISA) – places that, one way or an­other, con­trib­uted to his for­ma­tion and, above all, “equipped him with the es­sen­tial tools to face the sub­se­quent work.”

For years, Angel im­mersed him­self in the dif­fer­ent tech­niques of en­grav­ing – in the Ha­vana Ex­per­i­men­tal Work­shop of Graph­ics he de­vel­oped an in­tense and lively work -, un­til dur­ing the dif­fi­cult years of the 1990s he was forced to start paint­ing due to a “prac­ti­cal prob­lem,” be­cause trav­el­ing from one place to the other in the city was im­pos­si­ble: “the Cuba of the 1990s seemed very me­dieval, prob­lems were re­solved in an ar­ti­sanal way and the tempo in which peo­ple lived was very slow and scarce; all this led me to med­i­tate on the punc­tual mo­ment we were liv­ing or, rather, sur­viv­ing.”

Then a pic­to­rial work started be­ing born “which had a great deal of en­grav­ing” but, as the years went by – al­though that re­la­tion­ship con­tin­ues -, Angel’s can­vases con­sol­i­dated their own per­son­al­ity due to the line and com­po­si­tions, al­though there is a con­nec­tion be­tween both man­i­fes­ta­tions. The word, for ex­am­ple, has started “climb­ing” onto the work and gives it a great guid­ing force, be­cause it leads the spec­ta­tor to­ward the path that the artist pro­poses.

Al­though his cre­ations do not have a re­li­gious sense, they as­sume many of the codes of the me­dieval imag­i­na­tion that give him the pos­si­bil­ity of con­struct­ing a pro­posal full of signs and mean­ings:

“It is an eas­ily rec­og­niz­able im­age which man­ages struc­tures of hi­er­ar­chy, that is to say, each im­age has its weight, at times even be­cause of the size…. There are even very large char­ac­ters and oth­ers that are less rel­e­vant in the story and ap­pear very small. I use all this to as­sem­ble my story.”

More than the im­ages, what the artists also most ap­pro­pri­ates is the spirit of the pe­riod and of the at­mos­pheres that sur­rounded them to hand us a pro­posal that does not speak of re­mote times but rather of phe­nom­ena that hap­pen to­day in the world and, in par­tic­u­lar, in his na­tion. Thus, an­other el­e­ment en­ters that char­ac­ter­izes his work: the use and the ma­nip­u­la­tion of a very fine irony with a high dose of hu­mor. There’s no doubt about it, the work of Angel Ramírez is bit­ing, and to try to fully un­der­stand it one has to en­ter his game, be­come an ac­com­plice and liven up the senses.

With a solid ca­reer as an en­graver and painter, since a long time ago Angel Ramírez has started flirt­ing with sculpture, a man­i­fes­ta­tion “which he greatly en­joys” and in which he takes great de­light “and takes his time” be­cause it seems he is not in a hurry but rather con­cerned that the re­sult­ing work is re­fined and the thing is that, in many senses, this man with a shrewd mind and full of ar­tic­u­la­tions, is also an out­stand­ing blue- col­lar art worker, “good with his hands,” as he has been de­scribed. And I em­pha­size the word blue- col­lar worker be­cause he is a te­na­cious worker, an artist that faces every day the bris­tol board, the can­vas or the wood with more than enough im­pe­tus and, above all, with the ob­vi­ous need to throw into those sup­ports all his pre­oc­cu­pa­tions: “the dreamed work is still to be made and, ac­tu­ally, I pre­fer to have it un­fin­ished be­cause I am fas­ci­nated with mov­ing ran­domly.” Angel Ramírez is surely a cre­ator who is markedly con­cep­tual and con­tem­po­rary who has a great deal to say and, above all, to ques­tion.

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