Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Oil on Linen, 2014
8 x 10"
Ramos: i've been looking at the piece and there is a split in my thinking, part of me experiences the image as a landscape and the other wants to see a figure
if a landscape, then there is some kind of reflection, and maybe it's both, as if the reflection of the landscape is a figure
the lower half is a figure and the upper half is a landscape, as if man and nature are one... and I say man because I see a penis
do you also see this, or intended for it, or is it me?
Perez: there is a figure sideways, its just an out line, its part of another group of images i had been working on and abandoned it for some time, and revisited looking at it in a different way
Ramos: I don't actually see the figure... just the penis, a red one
Ink on Paper, 4 x 6"
Perez: turning the composition on it's side
Ramos: So why this particular orientation then?
Perez: the original drawings i worked on were translated into paintings, big failure that turned out to be not so bad
i was willing to destroy the painting or continue going forward with another idea layered on top of it, i thought I would continue painting on it but as it turned out the very next thing i did was exactly what it needed for me to be happy with it
Ramos: ohh... i see the small figure now, i was imagining the entire piece as the figure
Perez: yes yes there is a later super imposed figure upon the entire painting/composition that came later
Ramos: oh good so it's not my subconscious
so why this particular orientation?
Perez: well the drawing is a figure with its legs crossed so i know what you think is a penis is really a foot
Ramos: well as long as you see it too
talk to me about the orientation and about this harsh horizontal gesture, it can't be a horizon, i thought of it as a reflection axis
Perez: the line you speak of is part of the first session i did on it
i wanted to make a mark that divided the canvas up
Ramos: did you realize in it's context and orientation, this line would have connotations? like the ones I mentioned, horizon, reflection, etc..
I guess the questions has to do with abstract gestures that resemble things in nature, like horizon line or penis
do you take responsibility for them, as in do you own them, or they just happen to be there, are they part of your narrative?
Perez: they become part of the narrative you bring to life in them, I'm interested in each viewer having their own experience related or not
my approach in a way starts off as a decorative or automatic one, there are many associations one can make with the things they see, be it a line or a penis
Ramos: so you wouldn't consider yourself an activist, you take more of the role of a psychologist, refraining from persuading my thinking, allowing my thinking to grow more into itself
would you agree with that statement?
Perez: if thats the way your seeing the work i think thats the way it might be working for you,
I'm a painter or i play the role of a painter when i'm working in this manner so i take responsibility but i'm not limited to activist and or psychologist
i think the work itself is born from a mind that doesn't want to be so categorized and if so wants to be able to shift between meanings
Ramos: i understand if you don't want to lean towards activist nor psychologist and why you say they are limiting
how would you describe the role of the painter?
Perez: mediate, philosophize, or psychologize i think its a lot of different things at different times
i lean towards all of it but i don't define it as much as a viewer has to for themselves, i leave it all in a equal state of fluctuation, movement or ephemerality
Ramos: you mention decorative and ephemeral, and it seems like you rather not assume any responsibility to take any particular view or perspective, and you don't have to, the role of the painter can be anything
Perez: when i approach the canvas I decorate the surface with undefined marks, later juxtaposing them with other elements
the viewer can have their meaning and existence, one that fluctuates
Ramos: today I see a landscape and tomorrow I see a penis, and it's just my state of mind, that works
Perez: i think you want to read the works a certain way, i'll tell you what the work is about for me:
Perez: i ended up putting the silhouette of this image over an old painting, an image that has come to mean many things for many Cubans and i think i wanted to deal with the ghost of something of an idea or of something we know little of or second hand,
the image's superimposition into my life or the lives of many exiled Cubans is paralleled with the fact that the piece started off as a meditative, reflective painting that ended up in the category of political
Ramos: the yellow is the negative space of the image of a hat that Camilo Cienfuegos wore, in your words, the ghost of his hat
however romantic to the Cuban community, since he was one of our biggest heroes, there is no trace of him, it can be anyone's hat, it is the ghost of a hat
Perez: i like that you say that, i have other works that make references to the photo very clearly
Mix Media, 4 x 6"
Ramos: if I had known, this would have been a political discussion, but instead it was a discussion about painting because the painting didn't take a political position or even define a platform for one
Perez: i think you are asking that the work take or have or reflect a position, i want them to express a feeling and what they mean
how the composition came about is another story, sometimes non linear, and is as important, i want to take it out of that context and enjoy the image
Ramos: if your intent is to invoke thoughts of culture and politics and the Cuban psychology and Camilo Cienfuegos, then I would want the painting to give me a hint of those things, that's all i'm saying