Sydney Gallery Exhibits Oscar Munoz

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

Oscar Munoz is something of a gentle magician. His ‘disappearing’ drawings are poignant and beautiful, combining consummate skill with conceptual subtlety and rigour. His works are now exhibited at Art Gallery Of New South Wales, Sydney through 14 June 2009.

Munoz is a senior Colombian artist. He plays an important role in mentoring younger artists but his own work is very focused on a personal language that is closely tied to the body and its disappearance. His work has always combined traditional drawing skills with video in a completely original and surprising way.

Although Munoz is not assertively political, his work is more about mortality than specific acts of violence but it is impossible not to look at it in the context of Colombian life. A common technique for social control has become the ‘disappearing’ of people. The work shown in this exhibition, Biografias 2002 is structured to reflect this pervasive theme of disappearance.

Biografias is one of a series of works in which portraits slowly disappear, reflecting the disappearance of people on a regular basis in Colombia. Munoz has made silk screen portraits of people but instead of forcing ink through the screen onto paper he has dusted fine coal dust through the screen onto a flat basin of water. The portrait in coal is then transferred to float on the surface of the water. After a while the water starts to drain out of a plug hole in the basin causing the image to begin to distort. Eventually the image is compressed becomes unrecognisable and finally disappears down the drain.

Five such portraits are shown in Biografias by projecting video of the performed drawings onto screens on the floor complete with plug holes beneath which you hear the sound of water running down the drain. -- www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

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