Martín Ramírez’s artworks play hide-and-seek around the body

Martín Ramírez’s artworks play hide-and-seek around the body

‘The artist managed to create an intimate topography that still speaks to so many people today’, says Lemaire’s Sarah-Linh Tran of the artist which has inspired a women’s capsule collection

Lemaire’s Sarah-Linh Tran first came across the work of Mexican artist Martín Ramírez as an intern, working at the French gallery Abcd/ ART BRUT. Ramírez  immigrated to the United States in 1925 at the age of 30 and is viewed as one of the 20th century’s artistic masters and a leading figure of Outsider Art. He completed a large body of his work – including 450 drawings and collages – as a patient at the DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California, where suffering from schizophrenia, he spent the last 15 years of his life. ‘I rediscovered Ramirez’s work each time with more interest,’ adds Tran. ‘First at the New York Outsider art Fair and later at the American Folk Art Museum which exhibited his works in 2007.’ 



Top, Cat Birds Tunnels (1950). Bottom, Deer Family 2 (1953), by Martín Ramírez

In a celebration of the artist’s oeuvre – which incorporates folkloric and animal motifs and Catholic iconography, with soft brown and blue pencil strokes – Lemaire has launched a capsule collection incorporating the artist’s work. This features enveloping blanket capes, elegant wrap skirts and knee high boots, referencing artworks from the 1950s, including Deer Family 2 (1953) and Cat Birds Tunnels (1950). The repeated use of line in Ramírez’s pieces is well suited to clothing design, graphically tracing the contours of the female body. ‘The clothing allows you to picture the motifs in motion.’ Tran says. ‘They’re playing hide-and-seek around a woman’s body.’

‘Everything.’ Tran adds of what draws her to Ramírez’s work. ‘The used papers he collected and assembled by himself, and the textures he used to draw with, like coloured paste made from pencils, charcoal fruit juice and wax. The throbbing musicality of his motifs... the railroads like guts, the warm tones, the expressive eyes of his bandidos and animals. What is striking and beautiful was his power to transcend his isolation. Ramírez managed to create an intimate topography that still speaks to so many people today.’ §

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