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Oscar Muñoz: Dissolvency and phantasmagorias. Part 2

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[Intervals (While I breath)] by Oscar        Muñoz
Intervalos (Mientras respiro)

[Intervals (While I breath)] by Oscar        Muñoz
Intervalos (Mientras respiro)

[Intervals (While I breath)] by Oscar        Muñoz
Intervalos (Mientras respiro)

[Intervals (While I breath)] by Oscar        Muñoz
Museo Municipal de Guayaquil,
May 10, 2006 - Jun 15, 2006
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Oscar Muñoz: Dissolvency and phantasmagorias. Part 2
by Lupe Alvarez

Intervalos (mientras respiro) [Intervals while I breathe] returns to the use of the self-portrait in a delicate, extremely fragile presentation that takes the dematerialization of the support as a semantic key to the extreme. With that absence of a prop to the representation, the emerging image of the "I" has left behind its transcendental characteristics to fill the void left by that fault in the symbol that Muñoz’s work makes visible. The piece radicalizes the levity of the "I". Its imagined alter ego is not merely left to the mercy of the unforeseeable. In this series it appears burnt, pricked, disintegrated in full form, in the same measure that the painting disappears as a substratum and permanent territory.

The representation scatters on a par with its historical enclaves, and this process is emphasized with a vital statement: "while I breathe", which points to the passage of life, its temporality and the resistance it opposes to being trapped in an all-encompassing image. What it shows-hides is an experience that is given only to its recognition as an optical illusion, as effect and artifice.

The cycle that goes from one "Other" to the inexpressible, experience-based other, the occurrence of a circumstance, mark and footprint hereby runs full circle.

The process as is the case with almost all of the artist’s production, exalts the presence of traditions in ways that are on the fringe and freed of orthodox aesthetic considerations. Anyone can speak of his exquisite graphic work, in the same way that one can mention its pictorial quality regardless of the idea behind the painting. His experiments always suggest the influence of resources attached to a repertoire of morphologies (drawing, portrait) or media (support, format) that are subverted to extend support to the meanings between the lines.

It can be said that post subjective reality has found a fertile narrative in Oscar Muñoz’s work, mediated by the paradox between materiality of the elements he uses and the evanescence of the meanings that the latter invoke. The eloquent conflict is reaffirmed in the tensions between expressive traditions and their deconstruction.

However, it is in this stock of resources, with their unsuspected links, where the empty spaces that generate the disquieting, seductive bonus transmitted by his work are formed. Muñoz shows an impressive ability to make us see the indelible act of transforming form into language; of finding in artistic experience, with its communicative limitations, a "more" that can be communicated within its own enigma; he also manages to make reflection within art the ideal vehicle for transmitting contents with indescribable philosophical and existential dimensions.

That is precisely where that special "breath" offered by his work lies.

-Lupe Alvarez (b. Cuba)
Art critic, curator and educator. Lives and works in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

* Essay published in the exhibition catalogue. Courtesy of Lupe Alvarez and Museo Municipal de Guayaquil, Ecuador. Notes:

(1) I was inspired by a reflection by Hal Foster on the most influential speeches on the subject. Hal Foster, "El posmodernismo en paralelaje", Revista Criterios, Havana, No. 32, 7-12 /19

(2) Regarding this passage, José Luis Brea comments: "According to Heidegger’s lovely description, we would find ourselves immersed in the "era of the end of the image of the world," the period of the end of the Weltbilde: a time in which viewing an organic, effective representation of the world has become impossible, impracticable". José Luis Brea, "El inconsciente óptico y el segundo obturador", in

(3) I wish to make it clear that, following the logic of the consistency between the media and the meanings that characterize Oscar Munoz’s work, I have deemed this piece - and this is how it is presented in the exhibition--to be self-sufficient, rather than as the registering of an action.

(4) José Luí­s Brea, Tercer Umbral, page 97, pdf edition, 2003.

(5) José Ignacio Roca, Critical reflections from Colombia. In Columna de Arena No. 48.

(6) In the Columna quoted above Roca makes reference to Sylvere Lotringer’s "Representación de la Violencia/Violencia de la Representación [Representation of Violence/Violence of Representation].

(7) Walter Benjamí­n, "La obra de arte en la era de reproducibilidad técnica", in Discursos Interrumpidos I, Taurus, Madrid, 1999.

(8) They are a series of pictures made using charcoal, plaster and paper on wood, carried out in 1990 and 1991.

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