Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo

If we explore the work of Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo, we find the pencil. If we explore online, we find not a trace of his family history; it is as if an eraser had preceded the pencil in the creative process. All sources agree that at age eleven, he fled El Salvador, as if the little boy had packed his suitcase alone. He confides in an interview that his mother decided to seek the protection Canada offered at that time. Total silence regarding the father, a terrible silence in such circumstances. And he doesn’t say what decided his mother. I heard a gallery owner say that a member of his family had their throat slit. That or something else had brought the civil war that ravaged the country too close to home. I discovered another secret: as a child, he drew on the sidewalk in front of his home, and he, whom I’d begun calling Osvaldo, added that this childhood memory contrasted with the horror that surrounded them. On the sidewalk, you draw in chalk, and a child knows that his drawing is destined to be erased beneath human footsteps, dog claws and janitors’ brooms. The result of Osvaldo’s work now consists of superposing images and gradually destroying drawings, creating animation videos in which characters, little by little, are erased. Osvaldo explained that creating art by destroying these drawings symbolized one of the most terrible massacres of that war, the extermination of a thousand inhabitants of the village of El Mozote. One of the figures we see being erased is not far from a self-portrait, but even were that not the case, isn’t erasing any intimate autobiographical dimension in his work itself, paradoxically, an integral part of his work? When I looked again at the artwork preceding these videos of erasure, I realized that each drawing was surrounded by a void, a void that gave the impression that Osvaldo never drew on new paper, but on an erasure: that of his own history, exemplary of that of his people. I felt the void all the more as Osvaldo’s pencil meets a challenge almost unique in the history of art: drawing flesh. I say “almost,” thinking of Hans Bellmer and Sylvain Martel. Osvaldo opposes the traces of erasure to the representation of the flesh and therefore life in all its excesses.

Patrick Cady

ORCA – Soldier – technique mixte sur velum – 86/56cm 2008
ORCA – 36 carnivalissimo II political campaign – crayon mine de plomb, crayon de couleur aquarelle sur velum – 2008
ORCA – crayon mine de plomb et aquarelle sur velum
ORCA – crucifixion – crayon mine de plomb et aquarelle – 19/14cm – 2009
ORCA – Quetzalcoatl – détail
ORCA – Quetzalcoatl – technique mixte sur velum – 340/90cm – 2006 – détail 1
ORCA – Quetzalcoatl – détail 2
ORCA – Quetzaltquoalt – détail 3