The Art of Carlos Ramos
Carlos Ramos dispensed flora and fauna with flair in Natural History Museum Part 1, immersed us deep into the heart of South Asia with India, and now simply dazzles us with his new retrospective, Kubrick. Paying homage to one of the most revered filmmakers in history, Carlos employs his unique style to depict memorable scenes from Stanley Kubrick classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Dr. Strangelove. Ramos meticulously poured his heart (and brush) onto each piece in order to show his respect for a master movie maker who would accept nothing less.
As a lover of Kubrick myself, I leapt at the chance to interview Carlos, and gushed like a teenage boy at Comic Con as Carlos flaunted his Kubrick trivia. If you’re a fan of either Ramos or Kubrick (or both!), you owe it to yourself to read ahead and check out the show at Copro Gallery on July 10th!
Platinum Cheese (PC): For starters (and because the movie buff in me wants to know), what’s your favorite Kubrick film and why?
Carlos Ramos (CR): It would have to be 2001. Somehow because of the movies hollow tone and pace. The way the characters speak to each other like mannequin robots. It’s a movie I can’t stop watching. And of course the best art direction in movie history. The beautiful score. HAL’s voice. The wonderful ideas of what the future would be like in the 1960’s. All of it. It’s my wooby.
PC: What inspired you to undergo this project?
CR: I always get the ideas for my next show in the middle of my current. And in the middle of my India solo the idea of doing a Kubrick-themed show hit me like an anvil. And after that I couldn’t think of anything else. I’d occasionally see a friend at an art show and simply say, “What do you think of me doing a Stanley Kubrick-themed show?” And every time the person would go, “Whoa that’s cool.” Even if they said the idea sucked I would’ve done it anyway. Just the concept of spending almost a year painting just 2001 kept me smiling.
PC: What was the first Kubrick film you saw? Did you like it immediately or did you have to go back and see it again before appreciating it?
CR: I remember The Shining always being around since early childhood but in high school I became obsessed with A Clockwork Orange (as high school boys do) and found myself to be the school’s one man rental station to lend it to anybody who wanted to watch it. It was simply the coolest film I had ever seen.
PC: Kubrick’s films are praised for not just their visual majesty, but their immensely intellectual subtext as well. When deciding which scenes to depict on canvas, did you choose the scenes that spoke to you purely on a visual level, or was there a deeper connection at play between you and each scene?
CR: Well, reading-up on Kubrick’s subtext is a ball of yarn that never unravels fully. Mysteries within mysteries. It did enter my concepts but to be honest Kubrick’s visual subtext mixed with the writing makes for hypnotic results that swirled in my brain while working always. Like painting the Native American carpets in the Shining. They’re directional, pointing at Danny, at all the murder buried underneath the Overlook’s history. Heavy shit and a lot of pressure to pay proper respects to such material for sure.
PC: Did painting scenes from Kubrick films give you any new insight to his work?
CR: Of course! It’s great how many books and blogs are dedicated to theorizing on it all. But I think I found more fixation on Kubrick himself. Such a fascinating individual. Like the fact that he famously would never fly but prior to all that had gotten a pilot’s license? Nuts.
PC: If given the opportunity, what other famous filmmakers or movies would you like you pay homage to via painting?
CR: Well, I love directors like, Fincher, the Coens and both Andersons but seriously who cares? I can’t think of anybody who will ever hold a candle to the greatest. I just don’t feel like wasting anybody’s time. This is a one shot idea for sure. Maybe Kubrick 2?
PC: In what ways has Kubrick (or film in general) influenced you as a painter?
CR: His meticulous eye. The fact that there isn’t one millimeter of film that wasn’t scrutinized to death. I’m a total megalomaniac when it comes to my own art direction and a director like Kubrick serves as a ghost father figure to me that I always go back to for inspiration.
PC: The majority (if not all) of your works are created with cel vinyl on wood. Are there other mediums you’d like to explore?
CR: Nope. I think my career dies when that tiny Cartoon Colour building in Culver City shuts down. And cel paint turns into oil and dust after a year so I’m screwed. Believe me I think about it often.
PC: Have you ever considered making a movie? What do you imagine a Carlos Ramos film would look like?
CR: Yeah, I’ve been writing for a long time. It’s always something I think I’ll get back to someday. All I can say is that the movie would be meticulously planned out before any film was rolled. A film I wish I had made that I watch at least once a month is Shane Carruth’s, ‘Primer’ -a sci-fi indie made for $7000. I fantasize that I could make that film every time I watch it. That film along with George Lucas’s THX:1138 are the closest to Kubrick’s films I think I’ve ever seen. That’s my opinion of course.
PC: Was anyone else in your family an artist and did they encourage your artistic talent?
CR: No way. They feared I’d die a penniless bum with this art stuff but could never stop me. I was just so obsessed with film and drawing that it’s all I could ever see myself doing.
PC: Which contemporary artists do you most admire and/or are inspired by?
CR: Wow. I’d say Miroslav Sasek is my top person. His work is what haunts me when I paint. I have all his books in a box buried deeply somewhere in my closet. One day I plan on finding them and weeping while looking thru the pages. And second is Daniel Clowes. His perfect line and biting humor inspire me like no other.
PC: If I were to spend the day with Carlos, what could I expect?
CR: It’d be fun I think. This painting gig makes me somewhat of a hermit and so when I go out I tend to go balls-out. I like having a good time and really taking people in. Maybe karaoke?
PC: What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
CR: My Boston terrier, Bucket. He is the best friend I’ve ever had and my son.
PC: The one thing you can’t live with?
PC: What’s next for Carlos?
CR: I don’t know yet. I have 2 person show at Rotofugi in Chicago in October and I’ve got a pretty great concept that hit me a few months ago but am still doing my research. This show has really been a delightful drain tho so I’m happy to see the outside again. I plan on doing some swimming and eating some hot dogs while it’s still summer.