Whereas his previous Party Animals zeroed in on political structures and identities, Reybert Ramos’ Kingmakers looks deeper into the socioeconomic inequalities that underlie such systems. In a collection that highlights apex predators of distinguished pedigrees, the triumph of bull over bear, and the shroud of secrecy around their powerful connections, Ramos continues his explorations of the paradoxes and pitfalls of human nature.

Here is a society whose clandestine meetings only happen in the dark of the night, tucked away in a plush study, a smoky game room, a musky lounge: a world of cigars, bespoke suits, and heavy-based whisky glasses. Predators couched at the pinnacle of the food chain, they are the top 1% exerting significant influence over their environment, regulating prey populations, and shaping social dynamics. Ironically, the imbalance of power, concentrated in the hands of so few, provides a sense of balance among the masses. The question is, what if this equilibrium satisfies insofar as it is the only balance the majority has ever known? Just how well does this hierarchy work for all that fall beneath it, and those who perennially hold the power to shape it?

Ramos’ signature anthropomorphic figures make ever more indistinguishable the difference between man and animal, blurring behaviors between the two creatures. Yet, as the artist shows, there remains a distance wedged between them and us, barred from the upper echelons of this society, never privy to the discussion.

Notes by Gabrielle Gonzales