An explosion of color from a Yucatecan artist at 80

Gabriel Ramírez Aznar. Photo: a7.com
Gabriel Ramírez Aznar. Photo: a7.com

Mérida, Yucatán — True to his style, the painter Gabriel Ramírez Aznar will present 27 abstract acrylics at the Fernando García Ponce-MACAY museum starting Friday, May 25.

This is his most recent collection, which he called “Obra última” (“Last Work”). The artist turned 80 in January. But does the name indicate his retirement?

Not necessarily.

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“If I had said ‘penultimate’ it would have been worse,” jokes the maestro, who takes his joke a little further: “It could also be called: ‘If you saw one, you saw all of them.’ ”

Born in Mérida on Jan. 4, 1938, Ramírez Aznar is not so thrilled if the exhibit is just to celebrate eight decades of life.

“It seems that someone is surprised that at 80 years one continues to paint, but a painter never stops doing it, he does not retire like any other professional,” said Ramírez Aznar, in an interview with Diario de Yucatán. “A painter is still doing his art until he has no strength.”

Ramírez Aznar began painting, untrained, at 21. At the time he was living in Mexico City, where he emigrated with his family due to economic problems.

He remains a self-taught painter.

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“I did not go to Mexico City to become a painter. I did not know how to do anything … but I was lucky to be at the right time and with the right people.”

He returned to Mérida in 1975, a recognized artist. Even the MACAY, the contemporary art museum next to the city’s cathedral, dedicated one of its rooms to his work.

Ramírez Aznar has exhibited in museums in Cuba, Israel, Chile, and Nicaragua, and has been featured in more than 35 exhibitions in Mexico City’s now defunct Pecanins Gallery.

The paint is barely dry on his newest exhibit, at the MACAY. All of it was created since January.

“I paint fast because this type of work requires it,” said Ramírez Aznar.

His technique involves three sessions. The composition is first, followed by corrections and then a final flourish.

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For the artist, the most difficult point is the beginning and the end. “What is between those two points is what I like, the work itself; I do not like the goal.”

He is lead by instinct.

“In my case, my body tells me when I made a mistake,” said Ramírez Aznar. “If I painted with glasses they would tarnish me. Then I would realize that I messed up.”

So until now, despite having cataracts, he puts aside his glasses when he paints.

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“Let’s say I paint blindly,” he confessed.

Color has a “biological influence on me,” and the public will see lots of it in the show.

“I do not know if it is the correct term, but they are happy, violent pictures, but basically they are the product of a moment of joy or pleasure.I do not paint anguished anything, I paint with joy,” he said.

He does not dwell on his paintings. “Everything is spontaneous,” he said.

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Over 60 years of creating art, his work has become cleaner, the artist observed.

“In my previous exhibitions everything was jammed, there were too many elements … I have seen pictures from some years ago that are hanging in a restaurant and I realize that they are bad, I would like to take them and edit them all.”

In his house he still has many paintings because, he said, he does not usually sell many.

“I sell little because people do not like bright colors, they want something more moderate that does not disturb them so much, things that appease,” said Ramírez Aznar.

Despite so much recognition, Ramírez Aznar said he considers himself a rather forgotten painter.

“In this country everything is centralized, and in the question of the arts if you are not in the capital you do not exist.”

Even from his family, he sometimes lacks respect.

The artist recalls that one family member, with whom he does not talk much, once asked him: “You’re still creating graffiti?”

Source: Diario de Yucatan

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