Raymundo González grew up in Veracruz, México, predisposing him to the European influences that distinctly infuse this colonial city. Laces and fans from Spain, textiles from Italy, exotic foods such as caviar from Russia and sausages from Germany were part of the life of this bustling port, fascinating and fueling the young boy’s imagination and giving him a multitude of subjects for his drawings.
His perch was a balcony which afforded an exceptional view as he sketched the hustle and energy of the city in his notebooks. His parents and relatives tried to discourage his obsession because of concern that he could not make a living as a painter. Nothing could dissuade Raymundo to abandon his pencil and sketch book. Unable to ignore his gift for drawing, his parents sent him at the age of eighteen to the state of Morelos to study architecture at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morelos.
While in Morelos and the neighboring state of Guerrero, González awoke to the heritage of the rich indigenous culture of Mexico. He claimed, “My heart and soul became indigenous”. His studies included visiting the archeology sites and the murals of Diego Rivera in Cuernavaca and there he fell in love with “The City of Eternal Sunshine”... He never left.
Armed with the training of an architect, born with the gift of drawing and passion for art, González began his career as an artist there. Now, he rightfully takes his place in the long line of Mexican artists whose paintings recognize that the complex heritage of Mexico includes the European and indigenous culture, contributing equally to contemporary México.
In his work, subject, form, pattern and color are married to create pictures that joyfully reflect the complexities of this country. As Marion Oettinger Jr. Curator of Latin American Art, San Antonio Museum of Art points out in the prologue to the new book Raymundo González: Magical Realism, “Gonzalez’s work is saturated with folk imagery and motifs. His renderings of flora, fauna, public and private architecture, and human forms are drawn from the basic design elements from Mexican folk art and are used by post-revolution artists such as González to make their art relevant to the past yet establishing a new path into the future”.
Magical realism, normally a literary term today, is Gonzalez’s self-designation of his style. It differs from pure fantasy primarily because it is set in a normal, modern world with authentic descriptions of humans and society. According to the critic, Angel Flores, magical realism involves the fusion of the real and the fantastic, or as he claims, "an amalgamation of realism and fantasy".
The presence of the supernatural in magical realism is often connected to the primeval or “magical” Indian mentality, which exists in conjunction with European rationality just as Gonzalez’s own life experience and paintings exemplify. Gonzalez’s art can be also described as folk surrealism, in which people fly and mysterious juxtapositions are the norm — cathedrals tilt, carousels are populated with mythical animals, women hold up the church, people hang off buses, skies are filled with floating beds and shadows look like roosters.