Friday, May 3, 2013

Lopez Ramos "Virtual Collages" now available

This body of works approaches images as found objects while appropriating printed materials that fall into the interest field of the Wonderland series mostly through a high-resolution scanner turned into a peculiar camera obscura which reproduces the selected images with their peculiar textures and flavors that allows me to evoke in the utmost poetic manner the realities am referring to.

From this process a multilayered photographic image emerges, giving place to a new graphic object that is beyond the classic “ready-made” notion, as it is actually closer to a remodeled construction, an altered piece of clothing or a refurbished electronics: old objects to which a cluster of new meaning and qualities are added or insufflated.

Rafael Lopez-Ramos

Zarathustra, Confucius & Granny Say, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 20" x 24". 
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Document Enclosed, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 20" x 24". 
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Proust plus Five Saussage, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 24" x 20".
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Birthday and Missil, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 24" x 20".
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Grab that Cash and Make a Stash, 2013, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 20" x 24".
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Fabulous Beach Body, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 24" x 20".
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

Get Fit Get Toned, 2012, digital print on cold-press bright 100 % cotton paper, 20" x 24".
Edition of 25, numbered and signed by the artist. Price: $300.00

You can order your copy of any of these works through PayPal, we'll ship it to you anywhere in North America.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How a barren world seeing as reflected by mirrors, fenders, chassis and other shining surfaces, becomes a focal point.

Almost no one walks in Miami. Our car culture turns our daily lives into a boxed-in, tedious morass. The worst part is that our whole public space is subservient to the automobile. Think about it, if we ever walked, would we really look around? Rafael López-Ramos knows. He’s a rare species: A true Miami pedestrian, walking to the bus -or train- stop to go to work.
Urban languor interspersed with Burger Kings, McDonald’s and plenty of used-cars lots with blasting music and garish advertising. Who else would cogitate this daily routine to and from work, as he comes across the flatness of a human-bare, treeless, automobile artery like Le Jeune Road? López-Ramos turns this landscape of kitsch upside-down.
His paintings are like little oases of the banal. Detailed, zoomed in, and magnified, a single focal point reflecting the richness of concomitant spaces. These colorful cityscapes offer something unique to the artist’s eye: A rowdy distortion on a chassis, an optical illusion reflected on a side-mirror, or just a cool play of reflections on a wheel-rim.
This is not your typical realism. You may want the picture to be more detailed. The brushwork more finished. It’s deliberate. Take it as a distorted photo, only repainted. The artist is using a familiar approximation to distort and propagate sense data. And obviously, this is all a work in progress. But let’s take it to the next level.
Imagine how much you could see if your eyes could capture more information, say, X-Rays (or if you had the ability –like bats- to do echolocation). Would your landscape look like a Richard Estes? By mirroring nature, López-Ramos wants you to see more than you see. Reality apparently reflected, but really added to, shortened, zoomed in and spliced. If you think you see it, you missed it. We need a second look and art can always help. And isn’t art a distortion of the physical?

Alfredo Triff

The fragments of desire in Rafael López-Ramos' recent works

"Producing machines, desiring machines, everywhere schizophrenic machines, all species of life: the self and the non self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever".
                        - Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus 
The city as the utopian and phantasmagorical axis space of Modernity, finds itself in a crisis that, although taking into account both, the moral and economical crisis of the West, has altered its hegemonic and monumental contours in order to become a space for the fragmentary discourses of cultural differences within our own global culture.
When referring to cities today, we do not tend to allude to an urban site as such –centers with common structures, multiple spaces, and recurrent social actors– but to the city as a metaphor of globalization, that is, as a fragment which the art critic Gerardo Mosquera has conceptualized in the paradigm of the "post-spherical" age(1). Therefore, cities today are spaces of contradictions: if a city does not participate or claim its place in the global order, it becomes all of a sudden, a postmodern marginal space which, although surviving politically, enters a crisis at least at two different levels: in respect the global space in which subsists, and against its topographical existence. Miami fits one of these typologies, and what better way to corroborate this theory, than to venture oneself around the city while driving a car. From the suburb of "shadows and lights", as Juan Ramon Jimenez once called his residence in Coral Gables, to the skyscrapers in Key Biscayne, one can smell the fresh ocean air, the comfort, and the wealth. On the other hand, Flagler Street not only divides the North and South sides of the city, but also isolates two ways of life and two symbolic realities. Similarly, the cars passing by in this neighborhood are the synecdoche of the crisis itself: the megalomaniac Hummer with chromed rims, more than hiding the poverty of the city, accentuates and makes it more visible through its antinomy. All these images of social differences are the evidence that a city, far from being the space for the apprehension of dreams, is rather the space where dreams and nightmares can happily coexist with each other.
Lopez-Ramos' aesthetics, beyond its own fragmentary representation, also inscribes itself as a synecdoche in the tradition of Modern art's fascination with the machine as an object. Indeed, Modernity could be read as a history of several machines' accidents in space: starting with the carriage accident that enlightened Martin Luther to Protestantism, and ending with Marinetti's abrupt slip and slide in a road granting him the importance of speed. Modern commuting is a transformation of historical time and knowledge.
Nevertheless, the tradition in which Rafael Lopez-Ramos inserted his work is not that Futuristic one, which promoted the ideals of belligerent velocity and wars, but a counter-tradition that is more critical of machines, as the artist's social context is dominated by a hegemonic element directed towards consumerism. Lopez-Ramos' critique is analogous, in a more direct gesture, to the Latin-American discourses on the emergence of machines, which throughout the twentieth century were linked to the absence of Modern foundations and the rise of a city driven by new technological complexes. When approaching these artworks, we have no doubt that we are in front of a critical aesthetics of our present time, of the excess of hipper-consumerism, and the social inequalities, ideologically invisible from the voluptuous visibility of the automobile industry. This counterpoint between consumption and technology implies a new shaping of society, and a new role of the viewer as a subject who lives in that society. Not coincidentally, the birth of Henry Ford's mass production assembly lines, have a parallel with another unique social structure, although more intangible, which is the rise of Hollywood's cinematic image production.
Following Bernard Stiegler’s philosophical thought, we can say that both processes (assembly lines and the stream of cinematic stills) symmetrically relates to a similar axiological structure: if mass production of cars aimed at restructuring labor and alienating man from the product, likewise the cinematic image restructured and conquered the consumer's libido(2). Artworks like Embodied Dream and Self-Portrait & Garden on Headlights similarly correspond to Stiegler analysis; in other words, to the fragmentation of the artist’s city (Miami) whose metaphor lays precisely on the objects depicted as reflections on automobiles. Unlike the idea of desire as a proliferation of aggregates, as Gilles Deleuze would put it, Lopez-Ramos representations are in constant search of the fragmentary origin, or the quantified proliferation of their consumer/viewer's desire. Rafael’s fragments are raised to a metonymical ground, as they are part of the system's productivity that invests its power to obtain a flow of desire. No one has stated this better than Deleuze and Guattari: "Every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the other machine to which it is connected, but at the same time it is flow itself, or the production of a flow…this is the law of production of production" (3).
Under this philosophical-aesthetic framework of reproduction, Lopez-Ramos' automobiles are really fractures or social discontinuities which, precisely because of their own ruptures, should not be read as exception places of the system, but as zones that structure the system's necessity to keep perpetually rolling its power. Whether it is a showcase or a fender, the productivity of that fragmentary representation functions as a metonymical codification, not only in relation to the whole (the automobile), which is its most immediate reality, but to the complex historical and social matrix of production of desire by the system. When fragmenting the aggregate into parts, suggesting a semantic dislocation with nature, the artist is deconstructing the system of desire production, or at least, we can detect two discursive levels in this structure: i. representing how the system operates in its most ambiguous and selective reality, ii. representing how the system applies its own ideological signification of material production linked to desire and moral subjectivity, as we perceive that Lopez-Ramos is conscious of when citing the art critic Dave Hickey and his assessment of the American Dream –signifiers of happiness, of the future, of patriotism, and the democratic life. The artist, one more time, frames his aesthetics within the old dialectical strategy that intertwines technological progress and temporal fluidity as a new system's mystification.
The production of desire in Lopez-Ramos' latest works is not only achieved through the mirroring effects of the body cars, as the projection of nature's image assaulted by fetishism, but also from the internal structure of the production of commodities that is sustained by the subject, whose ontology exist only to control the culture field of desiring.
As we have already said, this new "Mirroring Nature" series configure several polysemic levels of a critique directed to the cultural industry as well as to global capitalism, to the North American values and its own ideological daydreamings, to the appearances of happiness in the post-industrialized context and the manufacturing of desire in the age of the image. Even though the artist has achieved a very personal expression, these artworks give us the impression that he has found his space between the static pictorial presence of David Hockney and the hyperrealist paintings of Richard Estes. Like in these two artists, the space in Rafael painting is always geographical (something, by the way, that has been present throughout his early works in Cuba during the 1980s): a return to the city and the fragments that withhold it.
Some last words must be said about these works in relation to the art of photography. If it is true that in this series there is an apparent dialogue with photographical representations, one must also critically note that Rafael has been able to displace the degree zero of photography, I mean the absence of the aura, and continued through the path of pictorial expression, which favors ambiguity rather than the aloofness of the photographs' enclosed space. Photography, one could speculate, is another of Rafael's ironic gestures in his multiple critique of the libido's reproduction and the fragmentation of the city space. Well-informed in the ambit of his city, Rafael Lopez-Ramos has accomplished, following the words of Hegel, the task of representing the universality of our social problems from within the semantic field of his own particular aesthetic. One must recognize that the radiant images of this series, more than a mirror of the city’s particularities, are also a synecdoche of the current state of our culture and the multiple contradictions of capitalism. Through its rare painterly minimalism and polychromatic allegories, these works have been able to elucidate with great profoundness how aware we should be of new cultural spaces of contention, also dominated by political instrumentation.
Gerardo Muñoz
M.A Student of Aesthetics Philosophy and Literature
University of Florida
1- Mosquera, Gerardo. "Esferas, ciudades, transiciones". ArtNexus, No. 54 Octubre 2004.
2- See Alexandre, Olivier. Utopia: à la recherche d'un cinéma alternatif 2007 o, Stiegler, Bernard. Echographies of television: Filmed interviews with Jacques Derrida. Polity 2002.
3- Deleuze Gilles & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004. p.234.

Against Usury

They touch our eyes, and we continue. We grow used to them just as when it rains and it’s okay and we look for something to cover our heads and we continue. We know what the rain is, of course, and it thunders and we continue; they get into our heads, inadvertently, and we go on, then the purchase, the repetition, what you buy, what you see, what you want or curse.

It was the summer of 1996, as I stood on the corner of Prince and Broadway with a friend, when I turned my head against the oncoming traffic and saw that almost perfect face.

-You are beautiful -I said off the top of my head, just like you’d say “it is raining” or “it’s hot” or “I am hungry”, unconditionally, ultimately conditioned by the image we’ve been taught to enjoy as beauty.

-Thank you -she retorted, enlightening me.

The red light went on, and we crossed.

-That girl looks familiar to me -I told my friend.

-Sure she does, it’s Christy Turlington. Look up, we just passed her up on Houston and Broadway.

She was closer to the sky than we were, and so it seemed she had just descended, much like the rain, to let me see that she was a live creature. From the humongous billboard a couple of blocks ago, she had already seduced me into buying Calvin Klein undies. Now Christie has thanked me!

I dashed across the street to Dean & Deluca, bought a fresh bouquet of red tulips and ran after her. Ten paces short of the corner on Lafayette, I said:

-Excuse me.

She turned around, looked at me, amazed, with an almost mandatory smile and perhaps some fear.

-This is for you.

I gave Miss Turlington the tulips and ran away, back to my friend, without even expecting the grace of a second thank you. I was the one in fear now.

That woman, conceived by the hands of some unknown God to procreate, to enlight and wet the day and our eyes with the grace of the rain, had just been desecrated by the merchants who’d turned her beauty into a mere commodity.

Salt bodies, bodies tied down that are snatched away by the wise rage of Rafael the artist, only to be recreated and given back to us free from the merchant’s usury and avarice.

Armando Suárez Cobián


Contra la usura

Nos tocan los ojos, y seguimos. Nos acostumbramos a ellas de la misma manera que llueve y está bien y buscamos algo para cubrirnos la cabeza y seguimos y sabemos qué es la lluvia claro está, y truena y seguimos, se nos meten en la cabeza sin darnos cuenta y seguimos, y luego la compra, la repetición, qué compras, qué ves, qué quieres o maldices. 
Era el verano de 1996, estaba parado en la esquina de Prince y Broadway con un amigo, giré la cabeza contrario al tráfico y vi aquel rostro casi perfecto.

-You are beautiful -le dije,  sin pensar, como uno dice llueve o hace calor, o tengo hambre, de manera incondicional, condicionado por la imagen que aprendimos a disfrutar como belleza.

-Thank you, respondió iluminándome.

Se encendió la luz roja y cruzamos.

-Esa muchacha me parece conocida, le comenté a mi amigo.

-Claro, es Christy Turlington, mira hacia arriba, acabamos de verla en Houston y Broadway .

Estaba más cerca del cielo que nosotros, como la lluvia parecía haber descendido para hacerme visible que estaba viva que caminaba. Ella era entonces la imagen que cubría el Billboard de la ropa interior de Calvin Klein. ¡Christie me ha dicho gracias!

Crucé la calle, fui al Dean and Deluca que está justo en la esquina, compré un ramo de tulipanes rojos y corrí tras ella, poco antes de que llegara a Lafayette, le dije:
-Excuse me.

Se dio la vuelta, me miró sorprendida con una sonrisa casi obligatoria, creo que con cierto miedo.
-This is for you.
Le di las flores y sin escuchar su respuesta salí corriendo a reencontrarme con mi amigo. El que sentí miedo fui yo.

Aquella muchacha concebida por las manos de algún Dios desconocido para procrear, para iluminar y humedecer el día y nuestros ojos con la gracia de la lluvia, era entonces desacralizada por los mercaderes que convirtieron su cuerpo y su rostro bellísimo en un producto más.
Cuerpos de sal, cuerpos atados que la sabia rabia de Rafael, el artista, arrebata, recrea y nos devuelve para liberarlos de la usura del mercader y su avaricia.

Armando Suárez Cobián

Welcome to Wonderland

The world thereby momentarily loses its depth and threatens to become a glossy skin, a stereoscopic illusion, a rush of filmic images without density. But, is this now a terrifying or an exhilarating experience?
Fredric Jameson. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

It is not a surprise anymore. We are no longer that Renaissance creature positioned in the midst of the world and master of his destiny. That propositional being has run away.

We live hunted by cultural mirages that dictate our dreams, desires and chimeras. Frightened by the sense of the ending, we have been left abandoned to ourselves and there we are, sitting comfortably on the brink of the abyss, pushing our lives toward the latest flat-screen generation. However, we can still feel this deeply rooted Nothingness inside us, a reminder that we were once alive.

Rafael Lopez-Ramos (Cuba, 1962) has been always bent on deconstructing the ideological fallacy hidden behind the bread-and-circus, virulent strategy so dear to Western societies.

His present Wonderland series appropriates visual iconographies coming from the advertising world, intertwined by the artist in exuberant, meaningful palimpsests.
The recurrence to the female figure is crucial in this series. Echoing the long-standing tradition of ‘woman as object of desire’ that pervades not only the Fine Arts but also the entertainment industry, Lopez-Ramos creates an interesting counterpoint between High and Mass culture.
These deceiving Madonnas -most of them shown halfway through ecstasy and suspended on abstract expressionist backgrounds- invite us to surrender into a doubtful world of easy pleasures.

In Wonderland, there are no hierarchies. The most innocuous objects –icons of our daily life- coexist with heroes, politicians and legendary dragons among others, all of them amalgamated in an exuberant pastiche that embodies our contemporary society.
This idea is reinforced by the use of collage and the incorporation of objet trouvés (i.e. consumer goods’ containers and labels) that act as playful triggers.
Irony and kitsch are the two most thought-provoking resources in this series. Lopez-Ramos’ derisive approach is profoundly rooted in the extended sense of deception and decadence that ordinary people experience in our globalized world, where confidence and the sense of future become a delusion.

Janet Batet
Summer, 2012
Bienvenido al País de las Maravillas
De esta forma el mundo pierde momentáneamente su profundidad y amenaza convertirse en una piel brillante, una ilusión estereoscópica, una avalancha de imágenes fílmicas sin densidad. Pero, ¿es estonces una experiencia terrorífica o estimulante?
Fredric Jameson. El posmodernismo o la lógica cultural del capitalismo tardío.

Ya no es una sorpresa. Ya no somos esa criatura renacentista situada en medio del mundo y dueña de su destino. Ese hipotético ser se ha escapado.

Vivimos perseguidos por espejismos culturales que dictan nuestros sueños, deseos y quimeras. Asustados por el sentido de lo final, hemos sido abandonados a nosotros mismos y aquí estamos, cómodamente sentados al borde del abismo, viviendo en pos de la pantalla plana de última generación.

Sin embargo, todavía se puede sentir, profundamente arraigada en nuestro interior, esa nada que nos recuerda que alguna vez tuvimos vida.

Rafael López-Ramos (Cuba, 1962) siempre ha estado interesado en la deconstrucción de la falacia ideológica oculta tras la virulenta estrategia del "pan y circo", tan cara a las sociedades occidentales.

Su actual serie Wonderland se apropia de iconografías procedentes del mundo de la publicidad que el artista entreteje en exuberantes palimpsestos de significado.

La recurrencia a la figura femenina en esta serie es crucial. Haciéndose eco de la larga tradición de la mujer como objeto de deseo, tanto en las Bellas Artes como en la industria del entretenimiento, López-Ramos crea un interesante contrapunto entre la alta cultura y la de masas.

Estas engañosas Madonnas, la mayoría de ellas en medio del éxtasis y suspendidas sobre fondos abstracto-expresionistas, nos invitan a rendirnos a un dudoso mundo de placeres fáciles.

En Wonderland, no hay jerarquías. Los objetos más inocuos –iconos de nuestra vida diaria- conviven con héroes, políticos, y dragones legendarios, entre otros, todos ellos amalgamados en un pastiche exuberante que encarna nuestra sociedad contemporánea.

Esta idea se ve reforzada por el uso del collage y la incorporación de objetos encontrados (en su mayoría envases y etiquetas de bienes de consumo) que actúan como un detonante lúdico.

La ironía y el kitsch son los dos principales recursos que provocan el pensamiento en esta serie. La burlona aproximación de López-Ramos, está profundamente arraigada en el extendido sentimiento de decepción y decadencia que la gente común experimenta en nuestro mundo globalizado, donde la confianza y el sentido de futuro devienen una ilusión.

Janet Batet
Verano de 2012