Autonomie is proud to present, We're All Sensitive People, the two-person show of Jason Ramos and Jorin Bossen on Friday, April 13th, from 7-10pm. Please join us for this incredible show.
Ramos's practice as a painter is hard to properly categorize in a climate where self-reflexivity has been all but naturalized. Its not that Ramos's work attempts to skip over the postmodern condition — loosely defined as an inability to identify with the theater of representation — but that his pictures try to extract something of the personal from public image production. Of course, this notion itself, takes for granted the idea that all images now have a 'public' life of sorts that reaches from the digital family album to the new facebook timeline. In this regard, Ramos's work transverses the public/private dyad by imbuing all of his source material, whether digital or photographic, with a kind of subjective candor that emerges from the act of interpretation.
For Ramos, this occurs in any number of ways. It happens through the process of selection and editing, through living with images in the studio and by playing with the varied historical priorities attributed to picture making. While the above concerns are associated with any kind of image based art practice, for Ramos, painting is about evoking a kind of intimacy with the image that activates unconscious associations, personal mythologies and even the fleeting quality of the moment. As such, Ramos's pictures are a kind of open source event that digs into the history of mark making, everywhere conflating the strategies of impressionism and expressionism, realism and bad painting, bay area influence and Leipzig school techniques — all with an eye toward investigating the conflicted nature of contemporary life. This shows itself in Ramos's ability to shuffle through a heady mix of historical idioms — such as the group portrait, vanitas, and self-portraiture — while everywhere reinventing the terms and conditions of genre-based pictorialism.
Whether or not such a project is viewed as a way to personalized public referents and found material, or as a gesture toward publicizing a private pictorial world that is all his own, Ramos's images are an opportunity to engage with painting as a type of thinking that occurs through picture making. Toward this end, Ramos's new body of work plays with additive and subtractive processes, stark and wispy contrasts, the reversal of figure and ground relations, and the sharp division between natural and irradiated colors. His images are a kind of polyphonic investigation into materials and memory that only hint at a semblance of internal logic after the fact. Informed by the play between context and content, Ramos's pictures capture something of that ever elusive and uncanny feeling that Freud called the enigmatic, but which we also might call a poetics of the idiosyncratic.
Bio: Jason Ramos is an artist, a curator and a teacher. He maintains a painting practice at RAID Projects, where he also serves as proprietor and Director. He is also the assistant curator at Torrance Art Museum and part of ARTRA curatorial. He has shown in group exhibitions nationally and internationally and was formerly represented by the co-operative gallery initiative Durden and Ray.
The recent works of Bossen are not about nostalgia. They are certainly images from the past, and specifically from the cinematic past, but they are not romantic ideals. Of course, to say this means that they are not treated in a finished manner; that they avoid the typical tropes of illustration; and that they are not necessarily handled in a sympathetic manner. In this way, Bossen's practice as a painter is a rare blend of modernist simplicity and postmodern reflexivity, everywhere letting us know that the image is a construction that is itself, about another construction. The first of these gestures issues from a degree of unfinish in Bossen's work, the second, from the selection of a heroic modernist archetype — the American cowboy.
But the insights provided by Bossen's paintings, which place the construction of identity on equal footing with the construction of the picture plane, go far beyond being a hermetic proposition. Playing with a reduced pallet, a generic 'type' and a clarity of means allows Bossen to pin point something critical in the cultural unconscious during this election year. The cowboy is an allegorical figure that is writ large across the politics of the present moment, sustaining not only the mythos of Reagan (the actor), but also Bush Jr., and the failed campaign of Rick Perry. One might even go so far as to argue that the republican's inability to recapture the authenticity of the cowboy resulted in the recent political quagmire that beset the republican nomination.
And in many ways, it is this same notion that permeates the work of Bossen, which plays with the style of a cultural construction by reducing it to just that, a depersonalized image re-presented as the artifice of ideology. It goes without saying that Bossen's work enacts a return of the repressed by conjuring up the boogey 'man' of identity politics, but this is not to simply valorize male machismo. He has, in some way, made our appraisal of the masculine image that much more clinical by going one better than either Fischl or Salley, reaching out for a true zero degree of expressivity. But what remains truly significant about such an endeavor is that his paintings point to the lack of a substantive replacement for the ontological status of 'the masculine'. In this regard, Bossen's work is engaged in a type of pictorial anthropology that makes us question the tropes of yesterday while calling into question the representational forms that continue to over-determine the political present — and perhaps even, the problems of tomorrow.
Bio: Jorin Bossen is an MFA Candidate at Claremont Graduate University. His work has been exhibited in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.. His artwork was recently featured on the cover of New American Paintings, number 53.