The raw depiction of subjects through vivid colors come to life in the work of Bony Ramirez. Throughout his artistic practice, Ramirez merges iconic Caribbean elements through Renaissance forms of composition to address the history and culture of a colonized Dominican Republic, where he was born and raised. Using a collection of material, the artist carefully layers his paintings in tropical scenarios, where the subjects’ iconic round, beady eyes and plump figures are “eerily seductive” upon the viewer. However, the eye always end up searching for the ever undulating extremities of the subjects. The metamorphic hands and feet of each depicted subject adds a level of mysticism to the body of work, further layering them in the exhoticism brought on by colonization. Ramirez has been exhibited twice at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, NY. Read below to learn more about the artist, his upbringing and his unique artistic style.
Caribaby: The Carnaval, 2020
Apoxie clay, tin foil, Styrofoam, resin doll eyes, aluminum armature, crushed velvet fabric, polyester fiberfil, polymer clay, acrylic, oil pastel, golf tees. Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did art first come into your life?
I was born and raised in Dominican Republic, we moved to the US when I was 13. Living in rural Dominican Republic, all my childhood I was surrounded by nature and chickens. I grew up in rural Dominican Republic, so where I’m from the streets are not even paved! It was a simple childhood. Growing up in a mainly Christian country, my first encounters with art were religious iconography, portraits of saints and sculptures etc. In addition to that, landscape and still life paintings are also very common in the average Dominican household.
Has your work always taken on the style it currently embodies?
While in high school I really wanted to be a children’s book illustrator, but after I graduated high school I really wanted to be taken more serious as an artist, so I took another approach. My figures evolved from these cute and thoughtful little kids, to anatomically incorrect human size figures. Now my figures not only educate the viewer but also challenge them.
El Mar Que Extraño/ I Miss The Ocean, 2020, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, oil stick, paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
What is your process like? How do you begin a work?
The process of making my paintings is bit complex. You can’t really see it online, but in person you’re able to tell that my figures are pasted on Wood panel. I make my figures on paper, I do an acrylic wash, color pencil and then I blend the color pencil with soft oil pastels. The background for the pieces is all acrylic paint and sometimes I use oil bars to complement it. At the end, the figures are pasted on the panel combining the two together into one piece. Before all this, I begin the work by doing a loose sketch of the basic composition of the piece, and then evolves a bit after it goes on the big paper.
El Tiguerazo!, 2020, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, oil stick, paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
From where do you draw inspiration?
I like to work on multiple projects at the same time. That goes for both paintings and sculptures. Because my works are multi-layered and multi-step pieces and can jump from artwork to artwork while something is drying or setting. Most of the time I have my headphones on to block any distractions. I take a few breaks from time to time when my fingers feel the burn from all the blending of the oil pastels. Most of the inspiration for my work comes from my childhood memories in Dominican Republic, my feelings and person experiences. I like to spend time on Pinterest whenever I feel uninspired.
No Me Olvides, 2020, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, oil stick, paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
Tell us about the subjects you paint. Are they people you know?
My subjects are all made up characters that I invent. Each one is unique and never repeats. I think that by making them up they feel closer to me since I’m creating human features that come into mind and just adapt them into my style.
Sueño?, 2020, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel. paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
What larger questions do you think your work asks?
I explore a lot with the idea of the human anatomy and what the average human being considers “male” or “female”. It’s interesting when people see my figures and give them pronouns based on what gender they think I’m trying to portray. In my head, my figures aren’t exactly human beings, so the idea of gender doesn’t really exist for my figures. In a way that asks the viewers to examine what exactly means to be a human?
Feeding A Child of the Ocean, 2019, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, rubber, oil stick, paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
Does your work reference any Art Historical movements?
I wasn’t able to go to art school or college in general, but I’ve always loved art history! I reference a lot the Renaissance period of art in terms of composition and storytelling. In addition, I am very influenced by the Italian mannerist movement, where they drifted away from total anatomical correctness.
Veronica, 2019, acrylic, Colored Pencil, Oil Pastel, Rubber, Oil Stick, Paper on Wood Panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
What’s next for you?
2021 will definitely be an exciting year for me! I can’t share most of my plans for the year yet, but I am currently working on my fist international solo exhibition in Montreal, Canada. This will take place at the beginning of the year! In addition to that I’ll be part of an amazing group show in January at Company Gallery in New York curated by Ken Castaneda. The exhibition will feature a variety of Latinx artists that are pushing boundaries in the art world. A lot a big things happening this year that I can’t wait to share with everyone!
El Coco Que Dejó La Ola, 2020, acrylic, colored pencil, oil pastel, paper on wood panel, Courtesy of the Artist and Thierry Goldberg Gallery
At the end of each interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love and would like us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
There are so many great artists that I know and whose work I admire! I would recommend Anthony Peyton Young, Melissa Joseph and Joseph Lazaro Rodriguez.