Paul Henry Ramirez: Sweet On
Sweet On is a site-responsive installation by Texas-born, New Jersey-based artist Paul Henry Ramirez. Ramirez drew inspiration for this work from a quotation attributed to R. Crosby Kemper Jr. (1927–2014) in the anniversary publication Marking 20 Years: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art: “Joy is to be surrounded by beauty.”
Over the past two decades Ramirez has embraced beauty in his art and has sought to bring joy to those who view it. In 2010, Paul Henry Ramirez coined the term biogeomorphic abstraction to describe his own bold style, a fusion of biomorphic and geometric forms. In his site-specific installations, Ramirez approaches architectural space as an empty canvas pushing the boundaries of painting and how the viewer experiences it. He layers luscious colors and bold forms, configuring them into an assemblage of canvases and stained-glass-like murals joined together by painting directly onto the wall, creating an immersive multidimensional environment. The teardrop shapes, softened edges, fleshy tones, and hairline markings have a remarkable resemblance to the body. As Ramirez notes, he wants the viewer to “feel as if they’re inside the belly of the work.” His references to the body are visible in the actions of the abstract forms he employs—dripping, flopping, bubbling, bursting, stretching, and pooling—which scatter across the wall and begin to change in form and opacity as they engage the façades of the Museum entrance and Shop.
Ramirez’s abstract installation also conjures the texture and forms of such references as toys, candy, cosmetics, and cartoons, presenting an awareness of the body and its influence on the materials and shapes of manufactured objects and imagery. Sweet On embraces the sophistication of the body and its abilities to elicit joy, one of our most sought-after emotions.
Financial assistance was provided by generous donors and members, especially Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
Christy and Bill Gautreaux
Norm Fretwell and Bev Haskins
James and Virginia Moffett
Hear from the artist and watch a time-lapse of this installation on the Kemper Museum smartphone app, available at: kemperart.org/app.