31 Jan Rafael Lopez-Ramos – Artist Interview
What made you decide to produce art or become an artist?
I think it was a need, an urge or a sort of destiny. I started painting at a very early age as most kids do but at some point realized that wanted to be an artist for my whole life, so I began studying visual arts at the age of 13 at a vocational school, and then continued my professional studies at San Alejandro Art Academy, where I graduated in 1985. Over the years that need sited in my mind as a creative vice, practiced not only by the act of creating art objects, but the aim that they create different and better realities.
How does the creative process work for you on a daily basis?
I can’t work at my studio every day but I’m always creating art, either by collecting a found object on the street, saving an image from the internet or writing down an idea or even a word that will yield to an artwork, which is the result of a constant dialogue with my surrounding context.
Aporia in Red and Green, 64″ x 65″
What has influenced or inspired you most?
In the beginning of my career I found great inspiration in the American Pop Art, discovered in a book consulted only by some students at the library of the San Alejandro academy, titled “New York: The New Art Scene”, written by Alan Solomon and illustrated by Ugo Mulas photos. The most influential to me then was Rauschenberg and that influence was very noticeable in the works exhibited on my first, precocious solo show, in December 1980, being still an art student. But from that year to today I have admired and / or got influenced by the work of Wifredo Lam, Marcelo Pogolotti, Eduardo Abela, Marcel Duchamp, Willem de Kooning, Joseph Kosuth, Joseph Beuys , Amselm Kiefer, David Salle, and Sigmar Polke among many others.
Which medium do you favor and why?
I usually prefer acrylics as medium of expression for its immediacy and non pollutant qualities, and Painting as the most ductile, egregious and personal of all visual arts genres. I see Painting not only as a flat bi-dimensional representation of reality but an artistic creation that represents a new reality itself. It is a complex apparatus when achieving the right balance between aesthetic finesse and semiotic intensity, an artifact aimed not only to catch the eye, but to lure and challenge the mind of the viewer. That is for me what makes art going beyond mere decoration.
Within the same concept I also recur to found objects and collage, sometimes combined with painting.
Please comment on the subject, content or significance of your images.
My art always reflects my surrounding social landscape, often from a critical point of view; something I began to mind back in the 80s, when I started creating and exhibiting in Havana, as part of the new generation of artists emerging during the last years of that decade.
My work is currently going through a process of synthesis as I’m revisiting strategies and methods previously resorted to in the Aporias of the Cuban Soul series, created in the mid 90s, while still living in Havana. Those earlier works gathered different meaning constructions that have emblematized Cuba and “Cubanidad” (Cuban Identity), throughout its history. This includes realistic renderings of tropical fruits -paraphrasing the gaze of Cuban colonial Painting-, the Revolution’s propaganda iconography, and the syncretism of Afro-Cuban religious symbols and Catholic images.
In Chromatic Aporias, my solo exhibit at MOCA North Miami on 2015, (from which MAC Fine Art has consigned two artworks) I added typical Americana popular culture characters, and esoteric symbols related to the American political tradition. The carnivalesque mixture of such dissimilar narratives may connote the cultural, philosophical and political paradoxes faced by the Cuban soul today, in a contemporary reenactment of the Aristotelian concept of Aporia: the equality of contrary conclusions.
MAC Fine Art also presents several works from my previous series Wonderland, exhibited in New York (2012) and Miami (2013), which is analyzed in dept by these critical reviews: Artealdia, Artdisticts, and Artnexus
Hablando en Chino, 33″ x 47″
What notable collections is your work found in?
– Permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.
– Liza and Arturo Mosquera Collection, Miami.
– KGJ Colección, Ciudad Real, Spain.
– Alejandro and Patricia de la Fuente Collection, Pittsburgh, PA.
– Amy Wong Collection, Vancouver / Whistler, Canada.
Have a solo show coming up on February 2017 at Artium Gallery, Wynwood, Miami.
What have been the highlights of your career?
The most important highlight of my career has been to keep creating and exhibiting art for more than 30 years, against the odds –an art world driven by political faithfulness/obedience, in Cuba, and money backed fabricated art stars, everywhere else.