In 2014, after a solo exhibition at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, Ramiro Gomez became a critical sensation for his re-imaginings of David Hockney’s pool paintings, which Gomez re-painted, this time to include the often-invisible workers who maintain pristine homes in Southern California. The Los Angeles–based artist’s work his since been a mainstay in the L.A. art world. Now it will make its way to New York, where he will be represented by Chelsea’s P.P.O.W. gallery. He will have his first solo exhibition there in spring 2018.
The gallery also plans to bring Gomez’s work to the upcoming edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, where he will create and exhibit portraits of the cleaners, wall painters, lighting technicians, and art handlers who make the fair possible, but whose work rarely ever gets credited. The series—which Gomez considers a performance unto itself—is a continuation of a two-day work he presented during the 2017 Whitney Biennial, at the invitation of fellow L.A.-based artist Rafa Esparza.
P.P.O.W. cofounder Wendy Olsoff told ARTnews that she first became aware of Gomez’s work when it was shown at fairs by his L.A. gallery, Charlie James, and that she has followed his career ever since. It was after a studio visit about a year ago with Gomez that Olsoff felt he would be a good fit for the gallery’s program, which also includes David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong, and Carolee Schneemann. “After seeing all these aspects of his work and getting to know him better, I began to see the authenticity he brings to the work as an artist,” Olsoff said.
In addition to his riffs on Hockney’s paintings, Gomez has created works on paper. With pages torn from luxury-interiors magazines as a background, Gomez has painted figures, often brown immigrant women, into extravagant domestic spaces. (A few examples from that 2013 series were included in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s recent group exhibition, “Home—So Different, So Appealing,” part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.) Part of the impetus behind Gomez’s work is personal: As a nanny for a wealthy Los Angeles family, and as the son of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, he met and befriended some of these invisible workers—often Latin American immigrants, many undocumented—who would later populate his images.
Gomez’s New York solo show debut will include new work inspired by the city’s own population of laborers, some of whom Gomez spotted on a neighboring roof to P.P.O.W.’s building and later photographed as source material. “It seems so banal but it isn’t when you experience it,” Olsoff said of Gomez’s work. “You begin to see the layers of the world in a different way. Right now in the world we live in, with conversations around immigration and the stratification of society, it’s an important statement to make.”