Steeped in surrealist ambiguity and absurdity, there lies one salient and simple truth in Reybert Ramos’ works: man is a political animal.

Reflecting on the socio-political realities of our day, the series is laced with the same uninhibited, scathing wit that defines so much of Ramos’ work. In true Orwellian fashion, the artist engages in various antics: word-play and stereotypes and parodies, to say nothing of his farcical animal heads. Yet through all the witticisms, Ramos shows no intention of alleviating the gravity of the political realities his images simply build on. 

Ever faithful to the realm and makings of pop culture, Party Animals returns to fairy tales and fables, approaching the eponymous wolf, tiger and lion with the childlike sensibility apt to show them as the predators that they are. In a series of crooked portraits, the artist dislodges their symbolic associations with leadership, might and bravery, unmasking them to dispel any notion of glorifying these creatures for anything more than their carnivorous natures: they are little else but the big bad wolf, the insatiable tiger, and the tyrannical lion. 

Dynasty sees the same trio, a junta enthroned, raising a toast to their campaigns. A painting within a painting, Ramos makes no secret of the fact that the three are a mere facsimile of a bygone generation, and the image thus a facsimile of present realities. 

Cat and dog form an unlikely camaraderie in Turncoat, as the former disarmingly assists the latter into the same red coat, while a ram enjoys the company of a wolf over cards and drinks in Confidant. Leaders of their respective packs, their unsuspecting card game, a charade of cordiality, becomes a fulcrum of a pecking order sustained by fickle relationships and shifty transactions.

In Ramos’ works, deep-seated power struggles outweigh outward animosity between individuals. Unafraid to villify his subjects and put his viewers on the stand, he probes at questions about the natural order of things and the limits of human agency. In parodies of civil society and teetering humanity, we are compelled to face at once the absurdity and sheer seriousness of the structures and relationships that make up the stuff of our bleak reality: a party between prey and predator, knowing full well that all will culminate in one gory, deadly affair.

-Gabrielle Gonzales