Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three new paintings in Antigua

"The Water Flask", "The Plate" and "The Exchange" (El Intercambio) are three new paintings I just sent over to La Antigua Galeria de Arte in Antigua Guatemala. For all three works I used friends that live in Guatemala as models for the characters. All three contain narratives that relate directly to the Neocolonial status of not just Guatemala and other Central American countries but of many more across the globe. The readings of Yuval Harari and Jared Diamond have been influential in my work. I find more and more clearly the historical connections and continuous line that bridges Imperialism from the ancient world to the European conquest of the Americas to the current global colonization by large transnational corporations. What drives this unity  for conquest and domination is a blind belief in the fiction of money and power. Today money seems to the universal religion that unites all in a common capitalist cause. When  animals are seen in merely  utilitarian terms, as objects and not as beings with rights, they become mass produced food and commodities. These in turn become processed objects valued in monetary terms. The same happens with many other precious natural resources from water to plants to the land. All becomes subject to the rules of the market. This belief in the supremacy of capital is ultimately contributing to the destruction of almost everything that lives on this planet, therefore leading to the suicide of our own species. These works reflect on our histories, inherited myths and current fictions.
The Plate 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A standing woman holds and shows us a plate that resembles an old Mayan plate. On a closer inspection we discover that the Mayan figures painted on the plate allude to a modern day fast food franchise.  It suggests socio-economic power hierarchies from the past to the present reflected in food production and consumption. Behind her we appreciate two painted figures from a mural. The Ancient Egyptian and Greek youths are accompanied by oxen and symbolize animal husbandry and agriculture, two important revolutions in the history of humanity that keep evolving to this day with the industrialization and mass production of GMO's across the globe. The haloed corn serpent around the woman's head, is Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail, which also symbolizes the eternal cycles in nature of life and death. The imagery in the painting is meant to evoke food by utilizing symbols associated with it that at the same time control or influence the way we understand and consume them. The plate is old, the plate is broken and it is also empty, just as the whole idea behind the sanctity of food in an age of corporations.

El Intercambio  (The Exchange) 24" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.

In the painting El Intercambio (The Exchange) two men pose in front of a Central American landscape and meet at a table. The one on the left represents the indigenous cultures and their beliefs. The one to the right is inspired after Saint Isidore the laborer, who was aided by an angel who plowed the soil. This character represents the West and  holds a pomegranate seed on one hand while holding a coin on the other. The pomegranate symbolizes Pluto, the Classical god of the underworld, power and riches. An inscription on the coin reads: Monsanctus Dominus Global, in allusion  to a large transnational seed corporation's global dominion. The apparent transaction occurs between two different cultures and belief systems. One places its faith in the god of money while the other holds Mother Earth and the natural world as sacred. The inscription below reads: Fatali Pretium Fructuum (The predestined price of produce) We can see that the gold coins on the table are really chocolate candy gold coins, a commentary on the created fiction and value of money. From the military drone to the flying saucer in the sky, the scene is a reflection of past and present conquest, colonization with its shock doctrine and myths of progress and development. Who will benefit most in the end from this exchange?
The Water Flask 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A woman holds a green round flask on her hands with a yellow halo around her. The flask is inspired after a Menas flask, a particular kind of small ancient terracotta flask sold to early Coptic Christians as containers for holy water. In this case the iconography of St. Menas of Alexandria has been replaced by the Nestle Logo, one of the largest transnational food and water corporations that has been responsible for unethical exploitation, water extraction, pollution and other fraudulent activities in a number of countries from Ethiopia to Colombia. The illegal appropriation, branding and re-selling of water as a commodity is just the tip of the iceberg from  a deceitful corporation that  paints itself as a "Pure Life" nurturing Icon. In a painting as in our own lives ruled by corporations, appearances can often be deceiving.  This brings us to question: Who has the divine right to water? Who has the right to sell it and who can afford to buy it?