Regardless of how you describe his illustrations, they certainly seem to jump off the wall and grab your attention.
The Diesel Café is showing Ramiro’s collection this month. I was lucky enough to catch Ramiro on his opening night. One of the most bizarre series he had up were orange characters with fingers as legs.
“Those are The fingers. Those happened at a crazy time. I was moving around from house to house. When there is chaos you always make the best stuff. So that’s when I started making that.”
“The finger series really had a lot to do with people and the Internet because it represents people’s heads floating with fingers. That’s all they are.”
“So that’s what that series represents but if you go to these others, it’s pretty much fun stuff. Do whatever you want with them. But with this you can do anything wrong with it because that’s what it is.”
The next series called Modern Women reflects on the history surrounding social expectations placed upon women by the media.
“I have this series over here called modern women. If you read the back there are three different print series in the back. There’s one from a 1970s playboy. There’s a book called elegance, which is a book from 1964 that explains how women should dress to be ‘elegant.’”
“And the other book is called the intimate history of American girls. And so this really kind of more like a statement of women print material and not really how it effects but really how it influences people. And I didn’t try to make it like porn.”
Another series that has really engaged viewers in political debate in the past is his BP oil spill series. These images confront the damage caused by the oil spill through hideous illustrated creatures covered in oil.
“And then this is a about the BP oil spill in 2010. And they’re all characters from the BP oil spill and kind of how it affected people and I’m showing this in London later this year.”
“I’m working with a group called Art not Oil and they hate BP. Because they’re from England and BP also sponsors the Tate museum and everything so they’re super pissed about that. So we’re going to be doing an exhibit in London later this year with this stuff.”
“All these figures have oil on them. You can see some of the fisherman over there. I did these in pen and ink. I love pen and ink.”
“I grew up in Argentina going to school with pen and ink. At school I would just get bored and draw with it. So that’s kind of how I learned to draw with pen and ink. But I like the fluidity of it. It’s water based so you can blow it and get different effects. I make a cool effect on one of the beards here. It’s really organic.”
The mixture of ink and watercolor are the perfect materials to express the BP oil spill. Both effectively tie pollution and water together using with its viscosity and discoloring.
“I showed these at hotel Chelsea in New York. It was a really weird show. There were a lot of really rich people there.”
A lot of republicans where there. One guy says ‘How can you go from doing this beautiful stuff to this political stuff.’ And I was like ‘well sir that stuff is actually about the BP oil spill’ and he said ‘What!? You actually care about that stuff!? That happened in the Gulf of Mexico! We live in Manhattan buddy!’”
“And I was like ‘dude that’s still our country and there are people down there!’ I could not believe he said that. But I get a kick out of those things because that is what this stuff is about.”
The series that initially caught my attention is hung closest to the food bar. It illustrates Ramiro’s progression into his much bolder political work. Much of it is reminiscent of the type of images that would appear in Ad busters.
“This stuff was very much a process. It was quite a process. In the background there are layers of newspaper articles from different newspapers. It was mostly from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal”
“And the tops in the background have something to do with the character in the foreground.
This one is Ernie with a gun. This about commercialization and money. So in the background there is a lot of stock information from the Wall Street Journal.”
“And I did this before the Occupy Wall Street Movement. And then once that’s started people were like ‘I can’t believe this! The Occupy movement!’ and this has nothing to do with it. This is before that. So that’s kind of the whole thing.”
Ramiro purposefully maintains the in your face approach when it comes to questioning the reading of his pieces. It is in this way that his work is more a political cartoon on steroids than a multi media illustration on canvas.
However Ramiro balances his consciously abrasive pieces with his much zanier work such as the Mustache Team series or his Monsters Inside Us.
“I’m pretty direct. With a lot of the political stuff, the stuff that has meaning, and has an issue behind it.”
“Look at Fox News, its right in your face, that’s all you can see. It’s direct and that’s what it is and if people don’t like it then I’m sorry but that’s what it is. Now if you move to the other stuff that has no mission like the Mustache Team or the Monsters Inside Us you can do or think about whatever you want.”
Some of his series ask the viewer to posit their own imagination upon the image. According to Ramiro they are made with no other intention than creating odd and playful imagery.
“Monsters Inside Us is pretty much a series of boobs. And I love those frames. I got them at a yard sale and I had to use them. “
“The mustache series is more like an illustration series. It really kind of started off with a bunch of mustaches and I pulled it together for the show I had in Northampton at this shop called Unite. It was kind of a boutique shop. I do a lot of political stuff but sometimes its fun to just make something weird.”
Ramiro will soon head over seas to continue his education in art. He hopes to create less abrasive and more “abstract” art in the future.
RAMIRO DAVARO COMAS
257 ELM STREET
EXHIBITION ENDS JUNE 2ND