Friday, July 2, 2010

A new large format painting is born out of my studio!

After more than a month of intensive work in my studio spending more than 8 hours a day painting, It is time to get back to blogging. It is easy to get burned out when you spend about 12 hours a day every day of the week in the same spot painting large and medium sized oil paintings. I can recall dreaming of paint and seeing paint everywhere. It is also necessary to stand back once in a while, contemplate what has been done so far and take note of the work . At the moment I have completed a good amount of paintings and drawings for my upcoming solo show titled "Era Dorada" (Golden Age in Spanish). This body of work explores the relationship between mythology, religion and the corporate colonialist project mostly known as Globalization. Here I shall talk briefly about one of the paintings that deals with all of these issues. The title of the work is Deuscovery Miento

 Deuscovery Miento  Oil on canvas 50" x 38" 2010 by artist Patrick McGrath Muñiz

As the title suggests, the work is inspired in the miscalled "discovery" of the new world by European explorers in the fifteenth century.  One can call a discovery when something  unseen by the rest of humanity is first found by one human or one human civilization. If we are to call a "discovery" the famous event occurred in 1492 with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in  Guahani (modern San Salvador island)  we must then assume that there were no other inhabitants in these islands or that these were not humans. In any case the perpetuated myth has been created in order to glorify the conquerors and colonizers agenda over the native peoples of the Americas. We grow up learning these myths in school. In order to know the truth, It is necessary then to unlearn what we are conveniently taught.

Detail of Deuscovery Miento: Christopher Columbus carrying a banner the reads: "Putocracia Imperare"

History has become manipulated pieces of information used to indoctrinate and turn us into happy submissive consumers and believers of the status quo. As an artist I look through history books for inspiration but I also find mythology reappearing though the past as well as in current world events. I start seeing patterns and similarities between what has happened before and what is happening today. What we call globalization today is nothing more than an extension of colonialism conducted by large transnational corporations. What used to be another culture's ancient religion, today we call mythology and by doing so we invalidate  it. In the end everything tends to move in one direction: Globalization or control over the globe.

 Detail of Deuscovery Miento: a Group of colonizers

In this painting I have reinterpreted the arrival of the European explorers to the Americas by incorporating pop culture elements that refer to our own time. Some of the characters are better known than others but they all say something about the theme of conquest and colonization either by means of religion or consumer media propaganda. The colonizing forces have been placed on the right side of the composition while the colonized natives are found at the left side. Both sides are comprised of characters and icons from different times and culture but share common traits either as colonizers or victims of colonization.

Detail of Deuscovery Miento: The meeting point between colonizers and natives

Above a detail of the meeting point between these two groups, the natives offer gifts , that include precious stones, their idols, natural resources and the Earth itself. The colonizers have brought their own gifts to exchange as well. These include, plastic junk from the consumer culture fast, food, a tv set and a dollar bill offered by Columbus.

Detail of Deuscovery Miento: Gifts from the natives

I have included indigenous, African and Latin American men and women to represent the people vulnerable to colonization. The three main gifts they hold represent three stolen elements from Africa and the Americas: Land, represented by the Earth, Natural resources, represented by the bowl of precious stones and Culture, represented with the Taino Cemi or religious idol. The latter also stands for polytheist religions a people's history and cultural diversity.

Detail of bottom part of Deuscovery Miento: Predella

On this piece I have implemented a monochromatic trompe l'oil frame. Trompe l'oil is a painting technique that creates the illusion of a three-dimensional object that stands out of the canvas, in this case an illusory frame which containts a predella. The predella is a mini-narrative of paintings or sculptures located at the bottom of an altarpiece that complete the story of the main piece above. Here I have represented the world with a globe that reads "Universal". This serves as both a reminder of how much we are influenced by Hollywood films and at the same time how conquerors and corporations presume to posses the "universal" gospel of truth which gives them the right to own the world. On the left side an oil rig, a maritime power symbol of corporations and on the right side a 15th century European caravel, a maritime power symbol of colonialism.

On the far right side of the composition we find two characters embracing in the background. They are representations of Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld and riches, and a Corporate Ceo. Next to them I have included Cerberus , the tricephalus guadian canine of the underworld. It makes sense to think of a god of the underworld to be the god of riches also ,as gold, silver and other precious minerals come from mines and black gold (oil) comes from under the earth as well. As it seems, corporations have made a deal with Hades, or Pluto as the ancient Romans would have called this deity. In Christianity the figure that most resembles this archetype is the devil but Hades holds a function that the traditional devil does not seem to posses or at least not that often and this is to be the lord of money. Christianity as with other current religions limits the spirit world into two realms: good and evil. There seems to be very little space for gray neutral gods in their view. On the other hand the ancient pagans viewed a world filled with gods and deities that were neither good or bad, they just served their own interests just like corporations do today. Reason why I find the pagan gods to be perfect metaphors for the corporate world.

Upper right detail of the painting Deuscovery Miento

On the four corners of this work I have painted four female figures that function as allegories to the four most influential mass media today: The tv and big screen media, the internet, printed press and radio. They read in Spanish: "Creo lo que leo, Creo lo que veo, Creo lo que encuentro y Creo lo que oigo". Translated in English this would be: "I believe what I read, I believe what I watch, I believe what I find and I believe what I hear". Media plays a vital role on the way we understand history and current world events so they make up the four cardinal directions of our senses as this painting suggests.
 In conclusion the work inplies its message with its title: Deuscovery Miento. "Deus" meaning god in Latin, "covery" a play between "discovery" and "cover" implies a "cover-up". The letter "Y" in Spanish means "and". Miento is the word in Spanish for "lie" So as the epigraph above the work reads: "Novisimo et Acuratisimo Deus Cover y Miento Global "  (Newest and most accurate  divine cover up and lies around the globe) . 

All text and images on this blog entry is copyrighted material© by the artist and author Patrick McGrath Muñiz