“Súplica” is the first painting I saw by Alfredo Ramos Martinez. A work of tempera on newsprint.
I was greatly intrigued, imagining some inspired naive artist who was very poor and working with the few materials available. As well, the drawing intrigued me, and the emotion expressed was very strong. As I became more aware of his work, my interest and appreciation developed into a full blown infatuation.
Ramos Martinez is a Mexican artist who began precociously and initially studied at the Academia National de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. In 1897 he went to France and stayed until 1910. There he witnessed the post-impressionist and modernist avant-garde upheaval in art. Also where, by odd circumstances when he ran out of sketch paper, he started his occasional habit of working on newsprint which continued throughout the rest of his life. When back in Mexico, Martinez became the Director of the National Academy and started Open Air Schools of Painting. So definitely not an unsophisticated naive artist.
In 1930 he moved his family to Los Angeles when his daughter was diagnosed with a medical problem that required special treatment. They settled in Los Angeles and his daughter was successfully treated.
One very interesting thing about his biography from the point of view of understanding art and the origins of its quality, is how he produced his most successful and high quality work while living separate from the original source of his inspiration. This situation did not hinder his inspiration or the quality of his work. It is possible that once separated from Mexico, he wasn’t distracted by the literal reality of Mexico and could go more directly to his sentiment and emotion to produce such effective art.
This work he produces in California shows the remnants of a cubist influence, particularly with backgrounds, and in his method of outlining forms by abutting a very light tone against a very dark one. His figures do not get the extreme cubist treatment and are more in keeping with post-impressionist and fauvist influences.
Some Earlier Posts