Catastrophe, Memory, Reconciliation


Exhibition Title: Catastrophe, Memory, Reconciliation

Artist: Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo

Opening: Thursday, September 10 (7-10pm)

Exhibition Dates: September 10 – October 10

Vancouver-based artist Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo explores issues around collective memory, historical trauma, and cultural identity in relation to the violence that occurred against civilians during the 12-year Civil War in El Salvador.

A series of mixed media drawings depict surreal and vibrant scenes filled with creatures in uniform; fragmented bodies tense with sinew and muscle; and carefully drawn figures with faces partially obscured or obliterated. Iconography sourced from North American vernacular culture, Pre-Columbian mythology, and Salvadoran popular folklore is amalgamated to explore the role of non-linear storytelling expressed in mythic form.

grunt gallery’s Media Lab shows a stop-motion animation that recalls individual identities of lost civilians juxtaposed against Super 8mm film footage of a road leading to the village of EL Mozote, where a massacre of nearly 1000 civilians took place in 1981 by the Salvadoran state army during the armed conflict.

This exhibition also includes a site-specific work of a colourful sawdust carpet, on the floor of the gallery. This work is based out of a Latin American traditional custom of creating large tapestry-like designs on the ground in public spaces during religious festivities.

Castillo’s work refers to a cultural past and contemporary present, fusing a hybridized aesthetic to engage issues about migration, historical trauma, identity, and memory. His narratives express a multifaceted, interlocking and non-linear approach. Consequently, the body of work revises and casts new personal interpretations on memory-building as a form of resistance, political commentary and healing.

Join us for the opening reception on Thursday September 10 (7–10pm); this reception coincides with SWARM, an annual artist-run centre festival in Vancouver, BC.  An essay written by Alexis Hranchuk will be available at the opening. The exhibition runs from September 11–October 10, 2015.

 Essay by Alexis Hranchuk | Download
Essay by Laura Bucci | Laura Bucci Essay

Artist Bio:

Born in El Salvador, Castillo immigrated to Canada in 1989 at the age of 11. He attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto 1998-2001) and received an MFA from Concordia University (2004-2007). A previous resident of Montreal, Castillo relocated to Vancouver in 2013.


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