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Andrew Muñoz

May 3, 2015

Andrew Munoz Dead dog 2010 Oil on board 36x22 cms

Painter Andrew Muñoz has a particular vision expressed in paintings that are often dark and disturbing. He touches on areas of human life that many would rather not confront but he does so in a way that draws you in, it is a darkness tinged with beauty. Subtle, beautifully modulated colour gives the work an eerie unearthly quality and a peculiar charm as his palette changes, as he moves from one body of work to another, complementing his sure handling of paint. He is influenced by William Sasnal, who uses a similarly restrained palette and by Peter Doig.

He has an obsession with the photographs of Diane Arbus whose strange portraits of deviant or marginal people made them so distinctive. One of her best known images is Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967 which has referenced. Working from photographs, his own and images from newspapers and magazines, he often deals with outsiders, those who drop through the cracks into the unsafe places in society. “Part of the work is about the photography as a subject.” Arbus committed suicide in 1971 and the themes of suicide or people who are excluded through illness or mental health problems frequently recur in Muñoz’ paintings.

Andrew Munoz Las Gemelas 2008 Oil on board 36x22 cms

Las Gemelas 2008 oil on board 36x22cms

There is a duality at the core of Muñoz’ compositions, abstraction versus representation, figures that are human and animal, man and woman. His extensive reading of Myths and Legends from many different cultures is another strand that contributes to his narrative. He has also invented his own dark mythology, initially as storytelling for his two young children and then as the tales became darker and unsuitable for children, purely to accompany the work. Figures are often isolated in bleak landscapes reflecting the inner isolation acquired as a safely mechanism by people who are fearful of confrontation with the everyday in our modern fast paced unforgiving world.

Andrew Munoz Hymnologist 2013 Oil on board 32x33cms

Hymnologist 2013 oil on board 32x33cms

The body of work, which he reluctantly calls his picture book paintings, new title pending, use predominantly primary colours. Their subject matter is childhood imagination, children’s books and to an extent they are autobiographical. His later work moves on to cautionary tales, the colours becoming more natural, developing into the green paintings, often set in woods or parks but usually empty desolate places. For Muñoz parks and children’s playgrounds are unhappy, lonely places frequently associated with memories of his solitary childhood. Park benches, a frequent motif, appeal to him as formal elements of composition but they are also immensely poignant. The Victorian concept of memorials to the dead encapsulated in a structure, set in a park where people can sit and look across a vista once the province of the deceased. Muñoz finds this idea extremely sad as the untended bench gradually rots and falls apart replicating the disappearance of the dead.

Andrew Munoz The Bather  2013 Oil on canvas  100x67 cms

The Bather 2013 oil on canvas 100x67cms

Muñoz’ current work Devolvers is a natural development from the earlier work and here the palette seems a little more aggressive but again containing those beautifully modulated gradations of colour which are characteristic of his work. His interest in anthropomorphism has been discarded in favour of an interest in grubs. He combs the shore side for strange objects hidden in mud and sand, visceral things which reference evolution and memories of primordial creatures dragging themselves out of the sea and up the beach. His figures are in a process of reinventing themselves creating a different version of their personality and his environments are becoming the mud and sand of coastal areas. The formal constituents of the park bench are being replaced by the looping rhythms of the struts and girders of the Severn Bridge. But ultimately, Muñoz states, “Ideas and philosophy are only a part of it. It is about paint and materials and what happens when you put a blob of paint on a canvas.”

Andrew Munoz Installation shot at RWA

Installation shot at the RWA Bristol

© Fiona Robinson 2015

Published in Evolver May June 2015

Header Image: Andrew Muñoz Dead dog 2010 Oil on board 36×22 cms

Andrew Muñoz is currently showing work in the link space at the Royal West of England Academy Bristol until 15 May 2015.

A new book ‘Andrew Munoz: Selected Paintings 2007 – 2014 is now available on Amazon

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