This work perfectly exemplifies Martín Ramírez’s ability to construct a personal visual language, balancing tradition and modernity while successfully integrating the figurative and the abstract. Ramírez worked from memory, away from his homeland and family during his long confinement in a California psychiatric institution. The drawing is part of an autobiographical oeuvre that visually narrates events and represents meaningful places. It depicts an industrious woman, probably his wife, plowing the land with the help of a pair of yoked oxen. Ramírez’s work is characterized by recurring designs and motifs, yet there are only two drawings on this subject and no other similar version of this outstanding composition has been identified. The composition of this piece is dominated by linear patterns depicting a river and the rugged terrain of Ramírez’s property in Mexico, which is located on a hill surrounded by an small ravine. The patterns of repeating, concentric lines that dominate most of Ramírez’s works are used here only to represent the grooves of the plowed land. The central character is also not enclosed by a proscenium. The absence of these two elements gives the composition a unique abstract appearance and sense of modernity. This version is also distinguished from the other piece on the same subject by the consistency and confidence of the lines and the skilled use of the limited materials to which Ramírez had access. It shows the artist in complete control of his abilities as a draftsman. The central female figure, traced on recycled brown paper with crayons and pencils as a simple silhouette, produces an eerie sense that one is contemplating a mix of Mexican and Egyptian folk art with an antique aura.
- Víctor M. Espinosa
Untitled (Landscape with Oxen and Woman) has been granted clear title by the artist's estate.