by Gisele Regatao
The Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, or ICA LA, is opening its new home on Sept. 9 with a show featuring about 50 drawings by Martín Ramírez, who died in 1963 at the age of 68.
The show comes at a time when new research is questioning Ramírez’s label as an “outsider” artist and is defining him as a master of the immigrant experience.
“He is an immigrant artist. His art is very important to understand displacement, to understand borders, how people cross borders,” says Victor Espinosa, author of the book, “Martín Ramírez: Framing His Life and Art.”
‘Me no loco’
Espinosa, who teaches at The Ohio State University, spent 10 years researching Ramírez. And he questions whether Ramírez really was schizophrenic. According to Espinosa, Ramírez was diagnosed after a brief psychiatric consultation where there was no translator. But Ramírez didn’t speak English. Espinosa says Ramírez kept saying, “Me no loco” (“I am not crazy”), but the doctors concluded otherwise.
“With this kind of diagnosis, it’s impossible to leave the institution,” Espinosa says. “Ramírez didn’t have anyone on his side to question the diagnosis, to do anything.”