Originally from El Salvador, the work of Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo deals with issues of collective memory, historical trauma, and identity. Utilizing mixed media drawing techniques, Castillo applies various motifs found in pre-Hispanic mythology, Salvadoran popular folklore, Catholic iconography, and references from Western art history to culminate in a hybridized aesthetic of historic, cultural, and personal experiences. Issues of migration, violence, and indigenous knowledge unique to El Salvador’s living memory are prominent in his work.
Drawn with great delicacy and a rich, almost romantic palette, Castillo’s drawings do not hesitate to collide abrupt and startling images into new hybrids—at once disruptive and disturbing while simultaneously evoking a lush eloquence. Concocted as narratives, his drawings are non-linear in aspect and intuitively construct memory as a mechanism of personal myth-making within which politics and modes of resistance can speak to a process of reconciliation, repair and healing.
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo (b. 1978, El Salvador) immigrated to Canada at age 11. He is a graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design (2001) and obtained his MFA degree at Concordia University in 2008. He has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally in venues such as The International Print Centre in New York, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, MAI (Montréal Arts interculturels), The Mexic-Arte museum in Austin, Texas and La Halle Saint Pierre in Paris among others.
He is the recipient of The Artist Studio Award Program by the City of Vancouver (2015-2018), including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2010) and numerous others from The Canada Arts Council. He was shortlisted for the Pierre-Ayot Prize in 2009 for an emerging artist by the City of Montréal. In 2011 Castillo was the winner of the Victor-Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for a mid-career artist in visual arts in Canada. He has participated in international residency programs at The Vermont Studio Centre in Vermont; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, California; Proyecto ‘ACE in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and The Santa Fe Art Institute (Immigration & Emigration residency in 2016, and Truth & Reconciliation residency in 2019), New Mexico. USA.
A former resident of Montréal, he now lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.