Ramses, a Los Angeles-based artist, was born in the Coachella Valley. His father was a nationally published airbrush artist, sign painter and pin stripper during the 1970’s.  It was his mother and her career that proved to be a definitive artistic influence. His mother had a home cleaning business, in which he and his younger siblings occasionally assisted. Many of the homes on his mother’s client list were celebrated architectural structures designed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. These homes held important modern and abstract post-war art, and it was during this time Ramses would find his artistic aesthetic. He operates out of his working studio in Hollywood, California which he calls ‘Substrate’. He recently collaborated with Factory Records Designer Peter Saville and debuted British artist Natty Brooker in the United States, best known for his enduring imagery associated with Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. His art is void of any material associations in contrast to the everyday flow of quickly changing imagery that shout for our attention and can be quickly be read, his art work has a visual ease and urges concentration and in depth reflection. He will soon be showing his forth- coming series The Darkwaves.

LA based artist Ramses

FAULT: You grew up in the Coachella valley, which is mostly desert, did that environment have any effect on your artistic aesthetic?

Ramses: Growing up in the desert as a young person, I was impressed with the openness it helped develop in your imagination. I always noticed textures everywhere, from the soft patterns in the sand after a windstorm to jagged shadows on the mountains at sundown. I’ve incorporated some of these qualities in my art.

FAULT: You mentioned your mother was an influence in finding your artistic sensibility. Sounds like your father was as well with the textiles and materials you choose for your art pieces. Can you elaborate on this?

Ramses: Materially I like bold characteristics. The industrial materials my father used were made for commercial purposes.They were made to withstand high speeds and extreme temperatures. They did have an influence on me in that I’m taking commercial advertising materials and reintroducing them in my own way in a different context.

FAULT: What impact did the architectural structures that you where exposed to at a young age have on your work?

Ramses: I like the honesty of modernist designed homes and structures. If you look at a 1950’s desert house, there are no secrets about what you’re looking at or how it’s constructed. I feel my work reflects that same idea.

FAULT: What is your favourite series of work or piece that you’ve created?

Ramses: I like my most recent group of work, the ‘Darkwavescapes’ especially Darkwave No 5. I like its size and convex motion, its psychedelic.

FAULT:  What sort of work space do you use when making your artwork?

Ramses: I like to have a clear space with lots of light. I work with graphic films and use a razor blade to cut out my shapes. Sometimes I have to rely on a reflection to see my cut marks. Lighting has a lot to do with processing my work.

FAULT: What do you do on a day off?

Ramses: I like making music- experimenting  with sound.

FAULT: What do think your artwork reflects about you?

Ramses: I think it reflects my sincerity.

FAULT: Has living in LA affected your creativity in any way?

Ramses: There are a lot of billboards in this town. Mass-media imagery screams from every corner. I wanted to do the opposite, create art that’s subtle and welcoming.

FAULT: What artists do you admire?

Ramses: Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and my local favourite, Ed Ruscha.

"My art is made of asymmetrical shapes with solid fields of space"

FAULT: Who would you like to collaborate with?

Ramses: Ed Ruscha! I like his graphic aesthetic. I like how his work gives an order to the barrage of mass media-fed images especially in an urban environment like Los Angeles.

FAULT: You used Chrome in both the series, what is it about that material that you’re drawn to?

Ramses: Chrome allows association. My art is made of asymmetrical shapes with solid fields of space. I want to make these unfamiliar shapes approachable and familiar.

FAULT: The art pieces ‘Darkwave No. 5’ and ‘I Love You’ have almost an opposite feel to each other. Were those extremities in material and contrast a deliberate choice?

Ramses: I give the art work what it needs. The ‘I Love You’ piece is intimate and gentile. I wanted to communicate strength with the bullet proof acrylic. This piece reads better up close than it does from a distance. Darkwave No. 5 demands space because the art elements are cut off at the edges of the piece making the viewer think the shapes continue beyond the borders of the art. This piece reads better from a distance to see it clearly.  So you have to look at these two art pieces in two different ways. FOCUS: “I LOVE YOU”

‘I Love You’ is part of the conceptual art collection The Clear Pieces, based on recorded sound wave files. A chrome polyester graphic is cut from a substrate film, then applied in reverse to a thick panel of bulletproof acrylic.

FAULT: Music was a major influence behind this project. Can you tell us what bands or musicians were sources of inspiration for the pieces in the series?

Ramses: I played in the LA space rock band THE MEEK for four years and was inspired by playing music with them and some of the other bands we toured with like Singapore Sling. The series was inspired by the process of making and recording music. It’s about seeing a shape and associating it with a sound.

FAULT: How did you gather the sound file for the piece ‘I Love You’?

Ramses: We set up an m-box and a microphone my friend recorded my voice with no effects. I said I Love You with no emotion, tonally it tried to keep it very a-matter-of-fact and that’s the shape we got from our recording.

FAULT: What instruments do you play?

Ramses: I took guitar lessons as a child, learned basic chords, then on my own as a teenager I studied classical piano.

Questions for “Darkwavescapes”.

The Darkwavescapes are void of any material association. There are solid fields of colour that vertically fade out exposing the material they are applied to, either an unpainted burnished aluminium panel underneath or a piece of acrylic with seemingly endless white space.

FAULT: What was your muse behind this series?

Ramses: The evaluation of a low point in life and wanting to make it positive. Taking time for reflection.

FAULT: You also recorded a sound composition to coincide with The Darkwavescapes, can you tell us about that?

Ramses: When I finished The Darkwavescapes I wanted to sonically capture the pattern of a sound I was seeing.  I wanted to make a composition that coincided with the visuals. It sounds dark and hopeful at the same time.

FAULT: This series is void of colour, was that an intentional decision or something that evolved while you were processing the work?

Ramses: I’m trying to simplify my art. I’m interested in expressing myself and conveying a mood with the least amount of information. Right now I’m doing this in white and black, chrome and various shades of grey.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

Ramses: Getting lost in the details.

Interview by Leah Blewitt

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Substrate Contemporary 709 North Ridgewood Place Los Angeles California 90038

Curated by R. Jasmine Granados, an independent curator who has worked on projects with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco State University Fine Art Gallery, Warehouse 1310, Girl Wonder, Inc., and others.