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.
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.