About the Artist:
Born in El Salvador in 1978, Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo immigrated to Canada in 1989 at the age of 11 as a result of the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. He attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto 1998-2001) and received an MFA from Concordia University (2004-2007). A previous resident of Montreal, Castillo relocated to Vancouver in 2013. He has participated in various group exhibitions across Canada and internationally in venues such as The Print Centre in New York, Galerie-Kuma in Berlin, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery and Kala Art Institute in Berkeley among others. Castillo is the recipient of numerous production and travel grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, including subsidies from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and The Krasner-Pollock Foundation in the United States. He was the 2011 winner of the Victor Martyn Lynch-Stauton Award in Canada.
Castillo’s mixed media allegorical drawings explore issues of collective memory, cultural identity and historical trauma. Using the body as a symbol and site for trauma,his work is engaged with the possibilities of narrative manifested in personal iconography. The 12-year civil war in El Salvador that began with a coup on October 15, 1979 leading to atrocities such as the massacre of 1000 civilians at the hands of the Salvadoran state army, is undoubtedly a source of trauma and reflection in Castillo’s work.
Dynamics between cultural pasts and contemporary realities are also considered in his work. Castillo creates unique moments of hybridity and personal mythology that communicate issues of migration, identity and memory. As an expression of both historical trauma and healing, his works are at once dark and light. Within disembodiment and isolation, there are intertwined symbols of healing, as communicated through the artists’ use of colourful flowers. Vibrant and surreal, his works are filled with fragmented bodies, creatures, and moments of damaged human condition. References to the iconography of North American culture, Pre-Columbian mythology, and Salvadoran popular folklore, create a mythic and non-linear form of storytelling and healing.