A retrospective of Oscar Muñoz in Blanton

The clock struck midnight a few weeks ago and ushered in a new year that feels tinged with insecurity, not unlike the two foggy and panicked years that preceded it. But if we take on the luster of optimism about 2022 (after all, it’s the new year), it would be fair to dare that in the months ahead, an attitude of imagination will be vital – a perspective that can extrapolate the good and deconstruct the bad. And where better to start with that resolution than with Invisibility.

The exhibition, prepared by Vanessa Davidson, will open in February at the Blanton Museum in Austin after her debut in Phoenix. It is the first American retrospective of the Colombian artist Oscan Muñoz (born 1951). The show is based on four decades of work, starting with charcoal drawings from the late 1970s and transferring to the multimedia pieces of the present.

Oscar Muñoz speaks of his artistic practice as an effort “memory hacer“To” create memory “and many of his works explore and occasionally use ideas of perception and recollection. But perhaps an even more significant motive in Muñoz’s work is the recontextualization of Colombian history.

The 19th, 20th and 21st centuries in Colombia can be divided into several epochs of conflict and the period of so-called The Violence (The Violence, occurring in 1948-58) coincided with Muñoz’s childhood. The following decades were defined by bloody clashes between the army and insurgents, which escalated into the infamous cartel wars in the 1980s. Approximately 200,000 people were killed in the 10 years between 1948 and 1958, and another 260,000 Colombians died in the next five decades. Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory states that most of these victims were civilians who came under crossfire.

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Speaking of the emphasis of Colombian historical bloodshed in Muñoz’s work, Davidson said: “When Oscar Muñoz combines the uncertainty of life with the fragility of the image, he often creates poetic reflections on the brevity of both. Many of his works revolve around this relationship between image and life, while others contain explicit images of the dead. However, in his artistic practice, his approach to violence as a terrible reality in Colombia is philosophical rather than political. Considering his own upbringing in Cali, a place Muñoz described as having “numerous, complex, and thorny conflicts,” the artist did acknowledge that he was trying to derive from the experience of the conflict a po poetic level ’that had to do with artistic language. ”

It is precisely this contrast from the terrifying to the worshiped that has helped to attract Davidson’s attention when planning the exhibition. “I think now, like never before, his pieces have an even more burning response that goes beyond the Colombian context to become universal meditations on the intertwined precariousness of the image and the fragility of life itself, so important to today’s life.” And while Muñoz is often Praised as a photographer, Davidson warns viewers that it would be inaccurate to see artists as limited to the medium. Muñoz’s fifty-year career includes many deviations and autopsies in the artist’s photographic practice, imbued with his work in drawing, painting, graphics, as well as developing in the fields of video, sculpture and installation.

Indeed, Ambulatório (pedestrian area / outpatient department), (1994-2008) offers viewers a perfect study of the many intersections that make up Muñoz’s practice. Containing 36 photographic modules that create a unique aerial scene, and housed in broken tempered safety glass, visitors are encouraged to walk around and hear the soft crackling and crunching of their feet. The work was inspired by the bombing in Cali, and while examining the consequences, Muñoz was captivated by the broken glass that adorned the city’s paving. Execution Ambulance, these types of fragmented and jagged images appear symbolic Invisible as a whole. Muñoz’s work is not a quick study. He urges his audience to stay back – to find a cultural context, an individual personality and a universal dialogue in the cracks.

Subsequently, Davidson encourages visitors to make time for about 40 pieces during the exhibition. “In our attempts at thread [the images] together we become the artist’s accomplice. The viewer who watches – and watches again – is rewarded for staying by an artist who not only prefers the act of contemplation, but also considers it the culmination of his creative process, ”says Davidson. “I hope that visitors will enter with an open mind and open eyes – ‘overall, this exhibition seeks to reveal the philosophies and poetics on which the work of this groundbreaking artist is based. It offers a rare glimpse into invisibility he stands behind Muñoz’s practice, as well as his evocative, unstable imagination, which nevertheless persists in our imaginations. ”

—CAITLIN GREENWOOD

David Berry

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