Dan Ramirez’s exhibit, Certainty and Doubt, will be on display at the Chazen Museum of Art until Jan. 7, 2018. The collection includes pieces from early in Ramirez’s career, as well as more recent work.
According to the show description, “there is beauty and surprise here, along with quiet, presence, and visual power.” Upon viewing the show, these words ring true for the viewer.
The initial room in the exhibition features a series of large-scale paintings on canvases, which all possess similar qualities that inarguably connect them. Each piece, however, has an entirely individual identity that is noticeable through drastic differences in colors and patterns, in tandem with more subtle details, particularly seen through Ramirez’s use of lines.
Ramirez’s piece titled “I Sleep, But My Heart Keeps Vigil” (1980) is defined by a bold black line partially outlining the perimeter of the painting, and also descends through the middle. In this painting, the line gradually diminishes as it approaches the bottom of the piece, which juxtaposes the grey color covering the majority of the painting, which has an ascending gradation in the opposite direction.
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Nuances like this are characteristic of Ramirez’s collection, and manifest in many varying and intriguing ways. “Celestial City #9” (1983) boasts bright shades of magenta and fuchsia, which intersect through curvatures, yet is still contained within the trapezoidal shape which Ramirez uses continually through his work.
These pieces from the 1980s complement Ramirez’s 2017 painting, “Aletheia: Scribe’s Reveal.” This piece possesses similar aesthetic characteristics, such as the overarching shape and gradient, while it simultaneously stands on its own through the illusory fold in the middle of the piece.
The collection as a whole allows the viewer to contemplate Ramirez’s artistic process, as it includes work adjacent to his timeline as a practicing artist.
This complete spectrum takes form through small-scale sketches that offer a different perspective of similar shapes, as well as a series of sketchbook drawings that display preliminary and early-stage drawings of what came to fruition as paintings.
Both Ramirez’s drawings and paintings appear to radiate light due to his expertise with gradation, and ultimately allow the viewer to resonate with his personal interest in the conflict between faith and doubt, which is also reflected through the title of his show.
His pieces carry an emotional gravity, and communicate this idea through the spatial compositions with light, dark and the uses of line and varying shapes.