He may be 87, but in reality this Colombian artist remains in eternal adolescence. Though relatively unknown, Oramas’ work displays a surprising maturity with its own, original language.
Oramas works with industrial paint on cardboard and canvas to create his own figurative and abstract language.
These ‘Floweramas’, as he calls them, take rural landscapes of the Colombian countryside, village markets and floral scenes as their subject, though he has also undertaken some larger murals which feature local workers from the area.
His last piece, for example, entitled “Marcha patriótica” (Patriotic March) represented the mobilisation of the people as a sign of the birth of something new, deep within Colombia, manifesting itself in the famous Plaza de Bolivar in Bogotá.
Aside from tackling social themes such as those above, he is also an artist who possesses a way with colour admired by Alejandro Obregon, the Cartagena painter who lead the way in the early contemporary arts scene in Colombia, calling Oramas ‘Our best colourist’.
In fact Oramas uses everything from smoky sepias to the bright, jewel tones of the colour wheel.
After studying at Bogotá’s long-established school of arts, Oramas travelled to Mexico, a country to which he returned to study in the late 1940s and early 1950s, along with other writers, sculptors, photographers and poets of the time including the Colombian writer and anthropologist Manuel Zapata Olivella.
While there, Oramas collaborated on two murals with Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros and was involved with Fidel Castro and his yacht.
Oramas currently resides in the peaceful Ciudad Montes neighbourhood of Bogotá, in a house looking out on to a park and the previous home of Antonio Nariño, a Spanish separatist from the nineteenth century, who used the residence as a hide-out from his enemies of the period.
The beautiful location is the ideal environment to allow Oramas to relax and observe nature. He looks to the bright blue-grey skies and comments on their beauty: ‘Look at that white cloud there, in the midst of that blue, and that other one, beside the grey…’
Undoubtedly, the artist is in that very moment imagining his next ‘Flowerama’ – his fire for painting is still very much alive.
As the afternoon wears on Oramas loses none of his good mood or sharp memory. As he wanders around the beautiful place he recites poems and recalls that famous quote by Manrique ‘Our lives are the rivers that flow into the sea of Death…’
That sea is still far off for Oramas, a forgotten master of Colombian modern art.
(Translated by Rachel Eadie)