There Will Be Art: ICA LA Grand Opening

Presents inaugural exhibition Martín Ramírez: His life in Pictures, Another Interpretation from September to December 31, 2017

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: September 15, 2017

There Will Be Art: ICA LA Grand Opening

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) opened to the public on September 9th

Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation occupies the museum's main gallery with a presentation of drawings by acclaimed artist Martín Ramírez (1895–1963). The exhibition charts his journey from Jalisco, Mexico to the United States, and offers a constellation of imagery--from rancheros to trains and tunnels--that will deepen understanding of his creative process and the many dimensions of his immigrant experience.

Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation is the first solo presentation of this celebrated self-taught artist in Southern California. The exhibition is part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Organized by ICA LA Executive Director Elsa Longhauser, the exhibition will feature approximately fifty works that demonstrate the artist's rhythmic mark making and reveal the development of his unique visual vocabulary, which has been influential on subsequent generations of artists. A monumental 18-foot scroll that comprises a glossary of his singular imagery and forms will be on view for the first time.

Ramírez migrated to the United States in 1925 to seek work on the railroads. Following the Great Crash of 1929, Ramírez found himself unemployed and on the streets. Detained by police for vagrancy, and following a hasty diagnosis of schizophrenia by doctors who did not speak Spanish, Ramírez was interned in state psychiatric hospitals in Northern California for 30 years until his death in 1963.

Within these confines, Ramírez produced a body of remarkable drawings collaged from found paper and executed with matchsticks, melted crayons, and other makeshift implements. The resulting drawings range from small-scale abstractions to monumental figures and scrolls, which demonstrate Ramírez's unique draftsmanship of concentric lines, undulating patterns, and surreal topography.

Until now Ramírez's drawings have been discussed primarily in the context of Western art, with the exception of a major exhibition held in Mexico City, in which his drawings were displayed alongside folk art objects and artifacts. ICA LA's exhibition, on the other hand, accounts for Ramírez's hybrid character--he was an artist who drew from his Mexican past and negotiated his American present. This exhibition draws Ramírez into the critical orbit of art in California, where the crossover between Latin American art and American Modernism found its fullest realization.

A full-color publication will accompany the exhibition, with foreword by Elsa Longhauser and contributions by Josh Kun, professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow; James Oles, lecturer in Latin American art at Wellesley College; Rubén Gallo, director of Princeton University's Latin American Studies program; Mark Pascale, Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago; Harriet Stratis, Principal at Stratis Fine Art Conservation; artists Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson; and ICA LA Curator Jamillah James. These essays will offer new insights into the artist, his process, and his transnational experience.

About the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA)

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) is a museum which opened in September 2017 in Downtown Los Angeles. ICA LA's revelatory exhibitions of works by international artists, dynamic public programs, and inclusive community partnerships will reflect the diversity of Los Angeles and the world, fostering critique of the familiar and empathy with the different.

Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA), ICA LA serves as a kunsthalle, a non-collecting institution. The museum's newly renovated 12,700-square-foot industrial building designed by wHY under the leadership of architect Kulapat Yantrasast features ample spaces for exhibitions, education initiatives, offices, and a future café. ICA LA will build on its distinguished history of fostering artistic experimentation with bold curatorial choices and presenting the first West Coast solo exhibitions of artists who go on to celebrated stature.

ICA LA supports art that sparks the pleasure of discovery and challenges the way we see and experience the world, ourselves, and each other. The museum will nourish the community through the arts: educating the eye, stimulating the intellect, and nurturing the life of the mind and the spirit. For more information, visit theicala.org. Join the conversation, follow on social media at @theicala and #icala

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