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Rafael López-Ramos

… 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.” …

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

… “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.” …

“The artist has achieved a very personal expression that seems to find its place between the static pictorial ground of David Hockney and the hyperrealist territory of Richard Estes. Like in these two artists, the space in Rafael painting is always geographical (something that has been present throughout his early works in Cuba during the 1980s): a return to the city and the fragments that withhold it. In the other hand, López-Ramos’s works are evidently dialoguing with photographic representations; but we must also note that he has been able to displace the “photography degree zero” (or absence of the aura) to keep on through the path of pictorial expression, which favors ambiguity rather than the aloofness of the photographs' enclosed space. Thus, photography is another of Rafael's ironic gestures in his multiple critique of the libido's reproduction and the fragmentation of urban space: these radiant images, with its rare painterly minimalism and polychromatic allegories, more than a mirror of the city’s green landscaped mirage, are a synecdoche of the current state of our culture.”

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

"The emblem of the automobile as an embodiment of the promise of America as an icon of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness would permeate the entire culture, Catholic and Protestant alike, and this metaphor of corporeal intelligence would be reinforced throughout the nineteen fifties and sixties."

Dave Hickey, Air Guitar

The bliss of mechanical mobility that once elevated us to an almost godly level now may be turning us into a plague. In a city designed to be driven, not walked, "your car is like your shoes" as the local mantra asserts and the landscape is fashioned from crowded highways and streets coexisting with manicured public gardens mostly comprised of non-native invasive plants, which themselves are elegantly reflected in the glistening bumpers of 4-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs retailed by patriotic car dealers who decorate their dealerships with American flags to highlight that "embodiment of the promise of America" that critic Dave Hickey refers to.

Digital images document such an environment, reflecting fragments of this mixed landscape where conflicting elements dialogue with each other. The buildings glass facades reflect the pack of cars whose windshields and bumpers in turn reflect the Washington and Cardboard Palms, the Surinam Cherries, and the red Ixora flowers planted throughout the city. These deceptively beautiful images, which are later translated onto painted canvases, carry an imbedded warning about where this nonsensical superhighway may be taking us. Thus, these photos and paintings are landscapes with a twist: here nature converses with one of the greatest symbols of our civilization in what seems to be a very difficult negotiation.

Rafael López-Ramos

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