Mirroring Nature (2007-2010)
"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
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.
My paintings reflect 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 paintings on canvas, carry an embedded warning about where this nonsensical superhighway may be taking us.
“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.”
“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
"El discurso resultante, al margen de toda maniobra de paisajismo doméstico, muestra evidencias de confrontación reflexiva. De primera impresión, la serie parece complacer la voracidad sensorial mediante el deslumbramiento de las espejerías manufacturadas por la modernidad primermundista, entre cuyos reflejos descubrimos la imagen de una vegetación también estilizada y cosmética, como si fuese un simple ejercicio de captura del entorno, donde lo más comprometido sería de connotación ecológica, avizorado en los diálogos entre máquina, prefabricado y trazas de vegetación.
Pero hay algo implícito en estas superficies relumbrantes de autos, cromos y otras vitrinas que apunta a ciertas suspicacias epistémicas. Son ráfagas subliminales que tienen que ver más con el ojo crítico y el peso de la circunstancia actual, pero que no libra de vincularlas con las ocultas precariedades del establishment megacorporativo en una ciudad típicamente postindustrial como Miami."
Jesús Rosado, Autos, cromos y otras vitrinas