'Calypso Bay' (2015), Oil on canvas, 72 x 120”. Courtesy of the artist and William Turner Gallery.

‘Confluence’ Gustavo Ramos Rivera @ William Turner Gallery

July 22, 2021

Mr. Gustavo Ramos Rivera showcases strong abstract pigmentations and radical forms as part of the Confluence opening at William Turner Gallery. His wordless ideas painted imbue the artworks which are oft centered about industrial society to give us a more beatific perspective on the rambling nature of men at work – even if this work is ersatz at achieving the higher aims of the human race.

Al Mal Tiempe Buena Cara (A Good Face for Bad Times), Oil on canvas, 84 x 84″

The self-contemplations move us with the stark density of primary colors towards ideas such as We All Belong, 2013 for example, which is a challenging concept of unity. Amidst the predominance of black – certainly not a symbol of harmony – there is the patchwork of self-similar spaces of color assembled to give us the impression of the need for a concerted effort to overcome the dark agitations which impose unwanted friction between our selves. The circadian motion toward a more unified center without dividing lines is a perennial goal. Likewise, Al Mal Tiempe Buena Cara (A Good Face for Bad Times), 2015, demonstrates the willful evaluation to be passionately red with energy, to extend the vitality of oneself over the black necrosis which is always frighteningly present in the paradoxical human condition – where we have the choice to choose between an everlasting punctuation of life – or, hauntingly, death. The artist here affirms a punchbowl of excitation is necessary to blot out the thought of an empty pit which we may find ourselves in – to see the haloed yellow aura of a golden future which is immanent to those who can perceive the light.


Less abstractly yet still consistent with Mr. Rivera’s motifs, Calypso Bay imposes an abstract surrealist machination of heavy industrial refinement. The forms are certainly mechanical and pertain to the extraction of likely petrochemicals amidst an aqueous harmony of blue. Is this an ecological critique of man? Do we have a judgment of his sinful character blemishing the Earth? I do not see anything despairing at the orchestration, but instead can enjoy the insignificance of man moving parchments of Earth around to and fro; in an almost childish fascination with mechanized power. We do not, in other words, experience a dread of man’s potency being realized through the organization of one of the most necessary ingredients for the exponential acceleration of human population growth in the last one and a half centuries – oil. Instead, we see etched on the natural landscape an abstract expression of man-made forms necessary for the continuation of his vitality.


And this is Mr. Rivera’s task: to shed light on man’s ability to confront his inner nature and its motivations, now that he has time for a think. Stupendously, Mr. Rivera’s compositions lack an agitation at this fact, and instead invites our minds to be effrontery with a resolute answer to the question: how then ought I live? Why, in living color!


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