Critics’ Picks

Los Angeles

Ramiro Gomez

Charlie James Gallery
969 Chung King Road
November 16, 2019–January 4, 2020

One installation in Ramiro Gomez’s exhibition “Here, for a Moment” includes a street-side construction scene and a William Carlos Williams poem, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” (1960), written in marker on a large piece of worn cardboard. In the poem, itself a reading of a painting attributed to Bruegel, a farmer plows his field, oblivious to Icarus’s fall. Gomez’s Icarus has fallen as well: There he is, splayed out on the rocks next to Williams’s poem. Nearby, construction workers are setting up for their day. Before he died, Icarus might have imagined flying off to a good life. Now, the cold work of capitalism continues in his wake.

Gomez’s Marxist take on the contemporary moment threads through more than thirty drawings, paintings, and installations on view, which mostly depict people of color performing domestic and manual labor in scenes both hardscrabble and romantic. They sweep, tend to yards, do laundry, take out the garbage, lug traffic cones, and wield paint-roller extension poles. The artist brings his picture of the low-wage international workforce into dialogue with immigration control and the increasing criminalization of border crossing, especially in Demands 7, 2019, part of a series of colored pencil drawings on paper. The picture depicts a uniformed guard, perhaps a US Border Patrol agent, considering a cage full of frowning brown stick figures who might be migrant children. The guard’s pink hand and arm appear to be stuck in the bars of the cage, as if to suggest his complicity, and to ask that he be held accountable.