Ale Rambar

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Ale Rambar

In Ale Rambar’s home studio, his dreams soar as high as the mountains of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Each snip of watercolor paper transports Ale to his childhood, where his gaze is fixed on the mountain range, as his family travels from Limón to San Jose. For Ale, his mountains told the stories of an ancient past, each peak and valley a protagonist in an ever-evolving story. Today, Ale recreates those stories through his topographical, three-dimensional artwork that celebrates humanity and inspires conversation.

Ale’s love for art lies in the medium’s freedom and limitless possibilities. He says, “I like the freedom of it. I like the idea that I get to create what I like.”

As the eldest child in his family, art played a pivotal role in Ale’s early life. Pens and pencils were his escape, and the mountains he so loved became his friends with each and every stroke. Known affectionately as the artist of his family, pursuing art was a natural path for Ale. After attending art school and graduating in 2014, Ale leveraged his formal education and architectural inspirations to begin creating his topographical human pieces.


But it hasn’t always been easy. As a queer person living in Latin America, Ale struggled with bullying and defining his identity in a culturally traditional society. Amidst the darkness, Ale used his artwork to rewrite and diversify his own narrative. In the process, he challenges others to embrace their own diverse identities, too. His queerness positions many of his pieces as catalysts for social justice and conversation, especially relating to LGBTQ+ life in Costa Rica. His topographical humans give him a front-row seat to the breadth of human nature, where each layer and color works to inspire meaningful discourse.


Ale’s artwork begins with drawings that emphasize the topographical layers of a person. Those layers then come to life with carefully-constructed clippings of watercolor paper, and, sometimes, acrylic paint. Ale differentiates himself from other paper artists by using humans as his inspirations. With the human in mind, Ale’s, scissors and supply of double-sided tape give them arms, legs, mouths, and messages to share.


But, for him, stacks of paper and rolls of double-sided tape are more than art tools. In the studio, paper is easy to cut and accessible. In life, paper is often unnoticed and discarded, as are people. Ale wants to change that. “If we treated every single piece of paper as a piece of art, we’d have a lot of beautiful stuff. And this is something that I find that is connected to how we treat each other as people.” His artwork is the double-sided tape that brings people together and inspires social change.


Ale’s love for art lies in the medium’s freedom and limitless possibilities. He says, “I like the freedom of it. I like the idea that I get to create what I like.” Ale’s home studio is not an office, but a haven for connection and self-expression, where he works in collections and uses his pieces to support a larger idea or theme. His favorite piece is Melissa, a 2021 piece that features layers of paper with etched golden mirrors. Like the mirrors in the work, Melissa mirrors human growth, evolving from a 2015 drawing to a sensational, feminine statement.


Among all of Ale’s pieces is the overarching theme of tolerance. With topography as the focus, Ale hopes to share that topographies are living things, just as humans are. “I wouldn’t make a hole in a person,” he says, “Why do we do this to mountains or to natural spaces if we know that they are also living? Everything is alive, and we should respect the Earth. The main message for my art is tolerance: tolerance for the environment, tolerance for each one of us, tolerance toward our differences.”

Photographs by Francisco Rojas and Sergio Quirós

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