Artist Carlos Ramos is an Annie Award winner and creator of the mid-'00s cartoon spy series The X's. He's also a Stanley Kubrick fan.
Saturday night, Ramos opened his latest show, “Kubrick,” at Copro Gallery inside Bergamot Station. As the name might indicate, the show deals specifically with the famed director's films. Using cel vinyl on wood, Ramos captures images that remain ingrained in pop culture: Dr. Strangelove, the twins from The Shining, the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alex from A Clockwork Orange and more.
We asked Ramos a few questions about the project.
The idea hit me last year like a ton of bricks. I call these occasions “flashes,” a moment of clarity where you know what you want to paint next. Sounds spiritual or hippie-dippy, I know. A lot of times this moment never comes, but after the concept of tackling Kubrick hit me, I couldn't think of anything else. I've been obsessed with his films and the man himself my entire life and the concept of doing graphic interpretations of his work seemed like a perfect fit for me. I've been asked since if I'd try another director later, but that I think would be wasting everybody's time. There is no other Kubrick and there never will be, so this was my little way to pay homage to the master.
What's your favorite Kubrick film?
It would have to be 2001: A Space Odyssey. I can't watch it enough. The audio, the art direction, the characters, the vision of the future from the 1960s, HAL's voice lull me into a comfort and happiness I can't express. It's definitely my wooby.
The effect of the cel vinyl on wood was quite striking and modern looking. Was there anything specific that led to this choice?
When learning to paint I tried every medium: guache, acrylics, watercolors and I couldn't work with them. Painting can be like drawing with boxing gloves on. But, a friend recommended cel paint- what the old animation studios used to use to paint on plastic sheets and photograph for films like Disney's Snow White. With this discovery, I could finally work. It's like painting with plastic. My career probably dies if it ever went away since only one company makes it and it turns to oil and dust after a year ..so yeah, I'm screwed.
With your pieces from The Shining, you really captured the eeriness of the film without focusing on the most terrifying scenes. What was your approach for handling The Shining?
Good point. I was trying to keep them classy and not dwell on the blood and guts of it all. That piece is probably the one I had the most research and pre-thought on. The carpets representing the Native American deaths the Overlook Hotel was built on. The violent history of the American settlers and how this always happens again. The graphic carpet points at Danny as the tennis ball is the reminder that past ghosts are looming. And the blood seeping through the basement up the elevator shaft. Heavy stuff, so it was up to me just to simply not screw it up.