Catastrophe, Memory and Reconciliation
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo, Guerilla Monument, mixed media drawing, 2017
As a native of El Salvador living in the diaspora, Ramirez Castillo uses drawing his primary tool for storytelling to deploy elements found in pre-Hispanic mythology, Salvadoran popular folklore and iconography sourced from North American vernacular culture. His studio process is a constant act of revision that manipulates appropriated imagery into personal mythic narratives in a multi-layered fashion. The human body is used as a symbol and site for trauma in reference to personal and collective experiences of war and loss that marked El Salvador during the civil war years in the 1980s- a time that the artist and his family lived through, and as a result of which, immigrated to Canada.
His research is engaged with new approaches to knowledge and cultural heritage in contemporary times, merging a hybridized aesthetic to re-define issues of identity, collective memory and violence into focus through drawing, print media, stop-motion animation video and installation work. As a result, his body of work is sustained by an intuitive approach to myth-making that casts political expressions, voices modes of resistance, and most recently speaks to a process of reconstruction and/or reconciliation.
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo (b. 1978, El Salvador) immigrated to Canada at age 11. He is a graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design (2001) and obtained his MFA degree at Concordia University in 2008. He has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally in venues such as The International Print Centre in New York, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels), Sur Gallery in Toronto, The Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas and La Halle de Saint Pierre Museum, France among others. He is the recipient of The Artist Studio Award Program by the City of Vancouver (2015-2018), including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2010) and numerous others from The Canada Arts Council. In 2011 he was the winner of the Victor-Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for a mid-career artist in visual arts in Canada.