At Zona Maco in Mexico, the most-visited art fair in Latin America, works were tropically colourful, conceptual and confident. And standing out from it all was Argentinian artist Ramiro Chaves, thanks in part to a series of photos of his girlfriend with her hand between her legs.
After switching from cinematography to photography in the ‘90s, Chaves learned to work in a more solitary way. When the Argentinian millennium financial wobble came along and most of his friends left to study in Europe, he chose Mexico, principally to study at the Centro de la Imagen. His first solo show in 2006 at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Proyecto Canada, was a huge installation “in which lettering was very important.”
Typography is a key part of Chaves’s work. In 2014, he had a show called XXXXXXXXXX, which looked at the letter X in contemporary Mexican culture, in language, (in the 20th Century there was a nationalist discussion of whether to use ‘x’ in Mexican Spanish instead of Spain’s ‘j’) type and poetry, but also through architecture, design and urban planning. The result was the creation of a huge visual archive, a book and a touring exhibition. His following project, La Loma del Orto, looked at Argentina’s past.
Chaves changed his way of working when he combined looking at landscapes from his childhood with the idea of landscape. His work became freer, less project-based and what he calls “cross-imaginary.” You can see it in his murals Crotalos at the Sala de Arte Público in 2016 and Lxs Brutxs (which reads as either The Stupid Guys or Girls) sculpture works at the Museo del Chopo from the year before.
La Loma del Orto is currently included at the photography biennial at the Centro de la Imagen, running until 17th March and the X Project will be part of the California-Latin America connection celebration Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles this September at the Municipal Art Gallery, but at Maco we caught a glimpse of his future work.
The photos and drawings are part of El Fenomeno Manimas, an exhibition at his Puerto Rican gallery, Agustina Ferreyra, and a wider project at the end of the year that will blend organic architecture, pedagogy, sexuality and mysticism.
Main image: Untitled, Proyecto Canada, courtesy Ramiro Chaves