JOSE RAMON MURO
“When you look back, you only feel proud of a few works that continue to fill you and in which you consider that you achieved the goal you had set for yourself. For me, those works are art.”
Born in Bilbao in 1954, Jose Ramon Muro began painting in his early childhood but it was at age 31 when he decided to present his first solo exhibition. At this time, he was a pupil of the Basque painter José Luis Aldecoa, but his technical training influenced his style, framed in pop art with a tendency towards hyperrealism. Without ever fully leaving painting, he had times of greater dedication to other artistic facets like documentary cinema and photography, combining these alternatives with his main profession as an engineer. This economic independence made his passion for painting not contaminated by commercial purposes and passing trends.
The stages of José Ramón Muro's life are reflected in his works, particularly in the imaginative realism of classical touches, a genre that the artist cultivated throughout his career.
Muro recently received a prize in the Artists Network with a picture of an urban landscape entitled “Coffee Corner”, and this work has been published in the book of Acrylic Works number 6 in 2019. The beginning of 2019 brought a wide interview of his painting style in Hyperrealism Magazine Nº6. Additionally, this year he has participated in a collective exhibition at the NOHO gallery in New York
Jose Ramon Muro is an excellent example of artistic precision, precision and its linkage to never-ending patience. The incredible ability to slow things down around oneself enough to wait and capture the perfect moment or image. As seen in Muro’s paintings, most scenarios are intentional, the waiting is clear. We can sense how he waits for the exact light and the exact reflections in order to express the stories he wants to share with the world, a rarely empty street with mysterious lighting or the entangling shadows of trees on a path. Jose Ramon Muro shows is that art is always happening all around us.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. In my opinion, it is to represent the customs and tendencies of your time and to move sensations and the consciousness of people with social complaints. The main objective of an artist should be to get a good connection with the public through his work, which can be understood without need of explanation. For this, it is convenient that the painting tells a story or describes a feeling and that the audience feels curious and attracted towards the meaning of that work.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I remember painting at school instead of attending to the teacher. I remember drawing at the desk with another student who also drew very well.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I might’ve liked to be a film director since I was very fond of making amateur movies. At the age of 20, I was participating in photography and amateur movie competitions.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. My first serious work was not in painting, but in documental movies. With very few means, I won a national documental movie competition in Spain, at the age of 24.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. On the one hand, my style lies in different ways of retaining a moment lived, while also trying to capture a message in that image. It is the most important, and at the same time, the most difficult thing, to adequately express and transmit a message that is transversal and that depends on the visualizer. On the other hand, the technique is the transmitter of those ideas. A really good technique helps to express the message better but it is still not everything. Combining the technique with the expression of the idea is not often achieved. We are never free to be influenced by the trends that surround us, but opting for realism when the current pictorial tendencies are in other directions has more to do with the way of being of each person. In my case, with technical and pragmatic training, realism is what corresponds to my way of being, retailer and patient.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. Idea seekers tend to be accustomed to failure in their search because the great idea is rarely presented and we have to wait for it. Crouching in everyday reality waiting for that opportunity to appear on the camera or with the brushes, a capricious moment that crosses in our destiny, a great idea conceived at the most unexpected moment, that’s why you have to be a good observer, always have a camera by your side, because the idea is ephemeral and the conjugation of lights and shapes sometimes only lasts a moment. I repeat this many times, “see where others do not see”, sometimes you can seem to be distracted or be in your world, maybe so, but in actuality you are hoping to capture that unique moment that is presented randomly and that fate offers you.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Maybe being an introvert helps to make the marketing and commercial side more difficult for my character. Anyway, I cannot present it as a problem but if I had to mention any point it would be this.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. In my first solo exhibition, I sold almost all my work, but the gallery costs were too high in order to make the payment with the sales. In the end, I lost a lot of money. This led me to reflect on the way I had to choose to survive economically. The decision was to devote myself to another profession in parallel to succeed, since doing art is very difficult and complex.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. The most admired can be Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and current artists such as Richard Estes and also the Spanish painters Velazquez and Federico de Madrazo, they have always been present in the books of my library. His realism has been for me one of the main attractions of painting.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Painting is generally lonely. I need large temporary spaces of concentration because the narrow passage of creativity flows between failure and the great idea. In our journey through that passage, the void of inspiration comes to provoke anxiety. Anxiety occurs more often than inspiration, when you want to give something of yourself, but you are not convinced of the idea and the reasoning that you are going to express. It is the most critical moment of the creative person, the uncertainty, to make the decision about the work that you are going to carry out with certainty of success.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I like to take long walks in the city, in the mountains or along the seashore, accompanied by a camera, always observing the world around me. Many times thinking about how to evolve a work and looking for solutions to the painting I’m working on. In these walks, there is time to think and inspiration or new ideas are easily generated.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. We are never free to be influenced by the trends that surround us, but opting for realism when the current pictorial tendencies are in other directions has more to do with the way of being of each person. In my case, with technical and pragmatic training, realism is what corresponds to my way of being, retailer and patient. Each person carries out painting and art in general with a specific tendency depending on their way of being, with our genes pushing us in different directions. In my opinion, we have a predestined tendency towards a certain style.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. The recognition by the art market, whether local, state or international, would be ideal. Leaving a legacy that is recognizable and enduring in time.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. If we stick to painting, I consider fundamental the knowledge of the different pictorial techniques and the use of different materials. It is the same as for the musician to know music theory, then you can practice painting different themes. When you want to create your own work, you have to think a lot, what you want to transmit and how. I try not to start a work without having these points clearly solved.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The best advice is one I read from Pablo Picasso, about inspiration. Pablo said something like, ''Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,'' implying that inspiration is a fact that we must train to make happen.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. In my opinion, the best advice is, first learn pictorial techniques well and then try to reflect your feelings in your art. Once you have fixed the idea and take the brushes, it is only necessary to apply the techniques that you already know and that will make you capture the idea on the canvas. When you look back, you only feel proud of a few pieces, ones that continue to fill you and which you consider have achieved the goal you had set. For me, those works are art.