Artist Profile: Ronald Morán

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En cada casa hay un conflicto 

In each house there is a conflict

by Rachel Heidenry

Ronald Moran tackles violence – domestic violence, gang violence, social violence. Yet his works reflect the opposite – tranquility, delicateness, softness. Creating interiors of bedrooms or domestic kitchens, Moran blankets these rooms entirely in white cotton. Tools and kitchen utensils, typically sharp or shiny, are transformed into pillowy objects. The works become calm – static – with rarely a depiction of the human figure present, but rather mere traces of lives lived.

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HABITACIN INFANTIL / CHILDREN’S ROOM, installation photograph, Lamda print, edition 1/7, 12 x 18 inches

This seeming tranquility emotes an eery feeling of unsettledness – as if something is about to happen. Indeed, Moran masters the appearance of calm in his disguise of conflict. The unease is deliberate – as viewers we are supposed to recognize the violence around the corner or that may have just taken place. Thus, despite the pureness of the cotton, fear is inherent.

Morán04  foto 30 x 23 cm 4-6

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Ronald Moran’s art is characteristic of life in El Salvador, where the weight of violence in the everyday cannot be avoided. His art reflects – as much contemporary Salvadoran art does – the country’s violent history and current state of conflict. Born in Chalchuapa, El Salvador in 1972, Moran lived through the 1980-1992 Civil War. While Chalchuapa was not one of the main battlegrounds of the armed conflict, the region was nevertheless deeply affected. This reality would significantly impact his perspective and artistic point-of-view.

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HOME SWEET HOME, installation photograph, Lamda print, edition 1/7 18 x 12 inches

Indeed, violence in the ordinary seems to be the largest theme (thus far) in Moran’s oeuvre. In his installations of constructed rooms, each object becomes a metaphor for the action it enables. This poetic quality in his work reflects the reserved quality of violence in El Salvador. Though it is everywhere, it remains hushed and taboo. Despite its overt presence, few seem to discuss it. This is particularly evident in Moran’s reference to domestic violence and violence against children. Depicting household interiors rather than street scenes, Moran reminds us that gang violence or social violence is not the only form of brutality taking place in the country. 

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LABERTINO II, oil on canvas, 56 x 92 inches

In another work, Labertino II  Moran turns to paint. A maze of white walls fills the canvas, reminding us that there is still a long way to go with a path that remains unclear. Enabling the white cotton – this time through oil – he powerfully reminds us again and again of what remains silenced. And while Moran speaks to the Salvadoran reality, his work also takes on a worldly significance. As an artist he asks us to examine what objects signify, what remains hushed and what needs to be acknowledged. While already a critical voice in contemporary Latin American art, Ronald Moran is on his way to becoming an international figure in the years ahead.

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Ronald Moran has had solo exhibitions in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, and has participated in group exhibitions throughout the world. In 2007, Morán represented El Salvador at the Venice Biennale. He lives and works in San Salvador, El Salvador and is represented by Klaus Steinmetz Arte Contemporáneo, San José de Costa Rica.

Read: Interview with El Faro

Explore: Gallery representation

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