This painting was done by Manuel Ramirez, in 1981. It is a diptych, measuring 29" x 22" each, for a total size of 29" x 44". It is a very impressive work done on hand made amate paper, with mixed media. Done in 1981, and in very good condition.
Manuel Jiménez Ramírez was a Mexican carver and painter credited as the originator of the Oaxacan version of “alebrijes,” animal creatures carved in wood and painted in strong contrasting colors with intricate designs. He was a philosophical person, who believed he was the reincarnation of an artist, he began making animal figures of clay when he was a child but changed to wood carving creating human figures, nativity scenes and more as well as the alebrijes. He work can be found in public and private collections in various parts of the world in the United States. Jiménez Ramírez was born in Oaxaca, 10m southeast of the city of Oaxaca, he began making animal figures from clay when he was eight switched to wood. He was a charismatic person, dedicated to philosophical studies and believed he was the reincarnation of an artist, he was nicknamed a number of neighbors considered him a nahual. He was considered a kind of “curandero” and led Holy Week activities for the town. During his life he engaged in other activities, depending on his whim, such as cutting sugar cane in Veracruz and Oaxaca, basket making and more.
He died at the age of 86 in his hometown. Jiménez Ramírez is credited with creating the Oaxacan version of “alebrijes.” The original craft was created and promoted by the Linares family in Mexico City, making fantastic creatures of “cartonería” and painting them in bright colors. However, the Oaxaca version is made of wood, with figures closer to nahuals than the creatures of various animal parts of Mexico City; however both kinds are painting with detailed designs. Jiménez Ramírez often added hair and beards made of ixtle, another indication of their nahual origins; the artisan never taught his techniques outside his own family but in the early 1980s others began to imitate these figures. This attracted a tourism trade to the area. While best known for his alebrijes, Jiménez Ramírez’s carving repertoire includes various other kind of pieces including human figures, religious objects and masks animal masks, he made altarpieces, nativity scenes and scenes of everyday life with great detail with a sense of fantasy and artistic liberty.
Jiménez Ramírez worked in copalillo, palo de Aguila and cedar, with the first two collected locally. The latter he bought from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, he selected pieces of wood large, with an image of what he wanted to carve, in order to take advantage of the wood’s size and shape. Initial working was with a machete; some delicate parts such as ears and tails were added to the main body. He painted the pieces with commercial enamel paints; the artisan’s work can be found in public and private collections around the world in museums in the United States. He was named a “grand master” of Mexican folk art by the Fomento Cultural Banamex, his son, Angélico and Isaías continue in their father’s footsteps, working to guard a tradition of designs they consider their own. Angélico has been working as a carver and painter for over fifty years and Isaías for over forty five. Both have their own workshops and are assisted by the wives and children.
During the 1980s, many artists living in Mexico began to seek new alternatives to the forms of expression that had dominated Mexican art of the 1960s and 1970s, especially international trends such as abstraction. A number of painters sought to evoke dream-like fantasy in their art, creating vibrant and symbolic images which often integrated traditional elements of Mexican iconography.
Principal among these artists was a re-interpretation of Mexican identity, as well as the intense inward scrutiny of the artists’ individuality. Issues of gender –i.e., feminism and personal solutions to the socio-political role of the artists in a developing nation, were manifested in much of the work during this intense period.
Today, thanks to dynamic artists, galleries and patrons and the globalization of the world art scene, contemporary Mexican art is reaching galleries the world over. Mexico City has become an international art hot spot, while other cities such as Monterrey, Oaxaca, Mazatlán and Guadalajara also have thriving art scenes. Mexican artists attempt to interpret the uncertainties of the 21st century in diverse ways. The pendulum has swung away from abstraction to hyper-representation, photorealism, installations, video and street art.
Some describe the scene in Mexico City in terms of a boom or an explosion. But the truth is that art has thrived there for a century — from the great muralists like Diego Rivera in the 1920s; via the abstract painters of the Ruptura movement in the 1950s; and the conceptually-inclined ‘Friday Workshop’ artists in the 1990s; through to today. What has changed in the past two decades is the artistic infrastructure. A rich gallery sector and fairs such as Zona Maco have emerged, thanks to a fast-growing collector base.
Political stability and economic prosperity are key factors here. The capital has been immune to the drug-related violence that afflicts much of the rest of Mexico. Incomes have also risen steadily since the country signed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) with Canada and the US in 1994. Economists predict Mexico will have the world’s fifth-biggest economy by 2050.
One of Mexico City’s strengths is that the rules of the art game are less fixed here than they are in more established art centers. The focus in this city, for a long time, used to be on traditional work in traditional places… Awareness of contemporary art has developed [only relatively recently — which] has allowed more room for experimentation, the unstructured and the unexpected, combined with the international connectivity brought by the internet, which has let Mexicans plug into art-world trends and discourse like never before.
No discussion of culture in Mexico City is complete without mention of its museums: there are more than 150 in total, surpassing every city on Earth, bar London. The National Museum of Anthropology is a must for any visitor, though the biggest change on the landscape has been the recent building of new art museums. The standouts from the past dozen years include the Soumaya Museum (showing the collection of Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim); the Jumex Museum (housing the art of businessman Eugenio López Alonso); and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC), with its collection of mainly Mexican art from 1952 onwards.
‘Mexico is a large, highly centralised nation — and the capital is its stage,’ says Minerva Cuevas, an artist born and bred in Mexico City. ‘People from the rest of the country flock here for work, so public space is constantly being negotiated’.
It is also a young city: the average age of its citizens is 26, meaning there should be no lack of creative energy to maintain a thriving cultural scene. ‘That’s absolutely crucial,’ says Gabriela Lobo, Managing Director of Christie’s Mexico. ‘The scene here is vibrant and youthful, with lots of artists, buyers and sellers all still in their twenties. As impressive as things are currently, in many ways it’s just planting the seed for an even more impressive future.’