Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo presents Superfícies [Surfaces], Vik Muniz’s third solo exhibition hosted by the gallery. Featuring a brand-new series of unique works produced this year, the show opens to the public on October 24, 2019.
After moving to the United States in 1983 and being in close contact with artworks he had known only in reproductions, Muniz realized the enormous difference between interacting with artworks physically and engaging with them via replicas. These two distinct ways of experiencing art have informed the artist’s practice throughout his career that spans three decades.
His work invites the spectator to explore ambiguous territories loaded with dualities: between the image and its physical counterpart, between mind and matter, between perception and phenomenon. According to the artist, this ‘metaphysical exercise’ challenges our senses and perceptions by breaking new ground through a reality that is constantly changing, forcing us to acknowledge the fragility of our certainties.
The constant need to reconfigure the reality that emerges with the advent of new media is seized by Muniz as a way of breaking the paradigms that traditionally polarize painting and photography, reviving the relationship between the material and the pictorial, which recurs in his work since the start of his career. In one of his first series, Best of Life, the artist drew famous photographs by memory then photographed the drawings and exhibited the resulting images.
Painted surfaces – which are traditionally an epistemological field reserved exclusively for painters – have been repeatedly viewed and reproduced throughout history, weakening their material aura. Their colors, context or compositions are easily remembered rather than the texture of their surface or physicality.
In his new series, the artist once again removes the concrete element that differentiates a painting from a photograph by representing it via a layered image. The artworks presented in Superfícies explore two approaches that are recurrent in Muniz’s artistic vocabulary: a material in search of meaning or an image in search of physical renovation.
Even though the artworks use painting both in their process and concept, they are not paintings. Yet, as photographic images or artworks that exist in an autonomous and physical way, they are also not abstractions. The results are non-reproducible photographic images, which, in an ambiguous way, simultaneously value the material and conceptual surfaces of painting and require the observer’s physical presence in order to be successful.
This entropic negotiation between material loss and virtual gain encourages viewers to question their relationships with the physical experience of the work of art, within a context where images and the idea of reality itself are mediated by digital technology, which is currently omnipresent in our day-to-day.