For Los Angeles-based artist Ramiro Gomez, time as a live-in nanny for a wealthy family in Beverly Hills provided the background for a series of works that strikingly capture the faceless figures behind those immaculate scenes of the affluent life.
In a new solo show, Domestic Scenes, Gomez experiments with “interventions,” interjecting images of Latino laborers into pieces like David Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled, which is transformed into A Lawn Being Mowed. He does the same in advertisements taken from such upscale magazines as Dwell and Architectural Digest. The juxtaposition of these everyday workers in settings of manufactured opulence is both subtle — and powerful.
Housekeepers, pool cleaners, gardeners, all hover almost as ghosts, reminding with compelling simplicity of their importance in keeping the machinery of daily life humming. “You know, as little as someone might seem to be on the totem pole — they might just be the valet outside of the restaurant — they’re important, because they’re a face. And they have feelings, and they have thoughts, and they have a family, and they have lives,” the artist told the Huffington Post in 2012.
For me, it’s the sense of solitude that most lingers. The two images shown at top and left can best be summarized by Gomez in a recent interview with Hyperallergic: “It is a lonely job at times, with no protections or safety nets. Many of the job’s stresses are internalized and one must navigate on their own regardless of the treacherous journey.”
Anonymous journeys that will remain permanently etched in his provocative Domestic Scenes (on view at LA’s Charlie James Gallery through mid-February).