Labor and Latino Identity Through the Eyes of Artist Ramiro Gomez

This San Bernardino-born painter is becoming one of the most coveted and collected artists.

  • Category
    Music + Culture
  • Written by
    Melinda O’Brien
  • Photographed by
    Monica Orozco

 

Evolving at a steady pace, the current art scene of Los Angeles­—invigorated by a talented strain of artists who continue to test the boundaries of the creative realm through a variety of mediums and unique perspectives—offers art lovers the opportunity to collect beautiful, unusual and thought-provoking works that contribute to a more meaningful experience of life as a whole.

One of those artists is Ramiro Gomez.

While employed as a live-in nanny in Beverly Hills, Gomez began to record the contrasting scenes he came across while on the job. His recordings eventually displayed themselves in painted media depicting immigrant domestic workers—gardeners, housekeepers and nannies, for example—juxtaposed against opulent environs. Gomez refers to these works as “observations of labor.” While the paintings showcase the artist’s obvious understanding of the union among shapes, space and perspective, they also seem to succeed at providing a permanent visual study of a segment of the population that may otherwise never find its way into the history books.

With his nannying days now long behind him, Gomez, a full-time artist, goes for walks and drives around his own West Hollywood neighborhood, randomly encountering familiar scenes of domestic workers among affluent backdrops. Upon spotting a person and an accompanying setting that interests him, Gomez snaps a quick, concealed photo of the unsuspecting model with his phone. Later back at his art studio, the picture serves as reference for the painting Gomez will eventually execute.

To gain valuable insight into how Gomez’s photos inform his work, you may visit the artist’s Instagram feed: @ramirogomezjr. Doing so may allow you to more readily understand how Gomez composed his work entitled No Splash. In this piece, the artist reproduced David Hockney’s well-known A Bigger Splash (1967), but interrupted the composition by replacing the famous splash with two Latino domestic workers. This interruption reinterprets the original scene, allowing viewers to see a part of the story that isn’t revealed in Hockney’s version. This painting now belongs to the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Gomez’s Cut-Outs was also acquired by LACMA for their Home—So Different, So Appealing exhibition, featuring U.S. Latino and Latin American artists from the late 1950s to the present who have used the deceptively simple idea of “home” as a powerful lens through which to view the profound socioeconomic and political transformations in the hemisphere. The exhibit is part of the larger Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin America and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.

For more on this citywide event, visit pacificstandardtime.org.

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