September 9 – October 14, 2006
Opening Reception: September 9, 6-8 pm
Muniz uses photography to create images out of non-traditional materials – from chocolate to peanut butter and jelly, from dirt to toys. The work raises questions about the nature of representation. For this exhibition, the artist has created new images in the series Pictures of Junk. Working with garbage — outmoded exercise bikes, crushed soda cans, rusty chains and old tires — Muniz creates works after mythological subjects by famous painters, from Cranach’s Apollo and Diana to Bourguereau’s Orestes Pursued by the Furies. In this series, Muniz meditates on the artist’s eternal quest for the ideal in regard to specific historical environments. The choice of subject is aimed at exposing idealization as rhetorical simplification, as forms of Greek Gods and their cautionary antics appear — systematically crafted emptiness amid post-industrial rubble.
Working outside Rio, in a space the size of a basketball court, Muniz collaborated with art students from the favela. Each image was done one at a time over a period of month and a half. Only a basic outline of an image could be done in advance. The body of the work was composed by Muniz, directing his crew with a laser pointer from a scaffold high above. Muniz captures the image from this vantage point using a large-format camera. This angle creates puzzling discrepancies of scale.
Drawing is the basis of Muniz’s work. Here it is done so well and with such unconventional means, that it frees the viewer from thinking about the subject matter. The work forces one to consider the act of drawing itself.
“Look beyond the staggering ingenuity of Muniz’s Prometheus and you may see a reference to torture as a live issue of our time. Echoes of current concern – from hubris to war to ecology – ripple through his new series”, observes art critic Kenneth Baker about this series.
Peter Boswell, curator of Muniz’s current retrospective, notes, “Muniz changes materials, medium and methods the way Picasso changes styles: to make things new, to see with new eyes”.
In the back room, Muniz exhibits works from Pictures of Pigments, another series after well-known works of art. Executed in brilliant powdered paint pigment, these pieces reveal the compositional power of color. In these works after Redon, Klimt, Monet, and Hopper, it is only up close that the medium, pure undiluted color, is apparent. Muniz is currently the subject of a retrospective organized by the Miami Art Museum, which will travel to the Seattle Art Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal; and is currently on view at the Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa. He is the author of Muniz Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer, published by Aperture to accompany the show.
Widely collected, Muniz’s work is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the Daros Foundation, Zurich; and the Tate, London.
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