Obsessive geometry distorted by madness.
The first indication that the drawings of Martín Ramírez were never meant to grace the walls of respectable galleries in Chelsea is the quality of the paper - scraps of what appear like loose-leaf notebook sheets torn from the book of a high-schooler. At first glance they look they look like artful doodles. His obsessive geometry is distorted by madness - there's a recurrence of tunnels and pathways with dark entrances leading into the unknown. A so-called outsider artist, Ramírez spend much of his life in an institution diagnosed as a catatonic schizophrenic, which provides a reason for his style but no explanation for his genius. Animals look bewildered to be part of his sweeping perspective-defying landscapes and stare at the viewer with heads at cockeyed angles. Cowboys on horses look like the creation of a child but the fate that seems to await them-long pathways into dark tunnels-is anything but innocent. The stunning centerpiece of the show, Untitled (Trains and Tunnels 1952-53,) features imagery that recurs throughout his prolific output: concentric circles rippling outwards like consequences with endless ramifications and tunnel entrances, in this case framed with a subtle splash of red. The work may have been created at the fringes but it has a resonance that's undiminished after a half century.