Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's the Point of Oscar Muñoz?

Muñoz's images of figures in a shower. 
I suppose I always ask that same question about abstract art: What's the point? It doesn't look particularly beautiful and doesn't contain any clear message about anything.

A portrait in the process of breaking apart. 
So, why look at it? But lots of people do, particularly the work of Popayan-born artist Oscar Muñoz, who now lives in Cali, which are on display in La Casa de la Moneda on 11th St. in La Candelaria.

The exhibit is about the the ephemeralness of reality, as represented mostly in photography: photographs developing, images which fade before they're finished, images which dissolve and others which change with the viewer's perspective. Metal disks reveal images when a visitor breathes on them.

Portraits painted in
coffee on sugar cubes.
But we're surrounded by changes: slow ones as we age, quick one in the weather (in Bogotá) and instant ones with digital photography. So, I'm not sure why we need an artist to show us this stuff.

In this 2008 article about a Muñoz exhibit in the U.K., the artist says his work presents a metaphor about Colombia's long armed conflict:

My work today arises from my interest in understanding how a society comes to accept war - or rather, a dark and corrupted succession of wars over more than 50 years and which have not yet ended - as part of the routine of living, where both the past and the present are plagued with daily violent events which are persistently repeated.

Watching a video of a
photo being developed. 
The way that some Colombians in some regions of the country have become inured to their nation's violence could be the most disturbing result of the country's conflict. Yet, until I read it, the relationship wasn't evident. If Muñoz wants to comment on Colombia's conflict, he could do so more powerfully by being less abstract.

If you're into it, Muñoz's work is on display in La Casa de la Moneda until March 12.

I didn't see this image in the exhibit, but find it haunting. (Photo from INIVA

Every time I visit the Botero Museum/Casa de la Moneda complex I'm impressed by the building's architecture, which mixes modern geometric lines and colonial sections.

A hall with a spiral staircase. 
One of the museum's atriums. 

A doorway and plaza with a fountain. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Roots & Re-Visioining said...

Regarding being less or more abstract we need to consider the condition for the production of work by Munoz and many artists coming out of his generation in Colombia - a generation that experienced a horrific amount of violence and state repression. Subtlety and poetics were tactics that were necessary for fear of becoming another disappeared person as a result of your creative actions. Munoz and others works such as these are acts of bravery and out of necessity had to be abstract.

Roots & Re-Visioining said...

portrait, the photograph or the silhouette